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Full text of "Human Leopards; an account of the trials of Human Leopards before the Special Commission Court. With a note on Sierra Leone, past and present"

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CAPTAIN BEATTY, just before leaving for the Dar- 
danelles, asked me to write a preface. I think that 
the best preface will be to answer, as far as I am 
able, several questions which were frequently put to 
me on my return to civilization after the conclusion 
of the Special Commission Court. These questions 
were, " What was the object of the Human Leopard 
Society ? Were its members cannibals for the pur- 
pose of satisfying an appetite for human flesh, or 
was it some religious rite ? Would the sentences 
inflicted by the Special Commission Court have the 
effect of stamping out the horrible practice ? >: 

The first question can be answered with some 
confidence. The trend of the whole evidence showed 
that the prime object of the Human Leopard Society 
was to secure human fat wherewith to anoint the 
Borfima. The witnesses told us how the occasion of 
a murder is used to " blood " the Borfima, but the 
potency of this terrible fetish depends upon its being 
frequently supplied with human fat. Hence these 

The question as to cannibalism^ it is not possible 
to answer with any degree of certainty. The Com- 
mission sat for over five months, had before it 


hundreds of witnesses, and the notes of evidence ran 
into thousands of pages ; but the Court was a judicial 
tribunal, and it was anxious to bring its labours to an 
end as speedily as possible, so that no question was 
asked or allowed by the Court which was not relevant 
to the issue. Again and again answers given by 
witnesses opened up avenues which it would have 
been most interesting to investigate, but, unless the 
investigation was relevant to the case in hand or 
would have served to elucidate some other part of 
the evidence which was doubtful, the Court could 
not allow it to be pursued. Nor would it have been 
seemly for the members of the Court to make private 
investigation into a matter before them judicially. 
Consequently we could not probe down and ascer- 
tain the reason of things, but had to be content with 
the bare facts which came out by way of evidence. 

Moreover, although it was possible to have a fair 
idea as to whether a witness was generally speaking 
the truth or not, it was extremely difficult to lay one's 
finger on any detail and be satisfied as to its reason- 
able correctness. Furthermore, whenever a witness 
approached cannibalism he palpably made reserva- 
tions or additions, whilst at all the more interesting 
junctures we had to keep severely in mind that we 
were not holding a scientific inquiry but were a 
judicial tribunal having as the sole issue before us 
whether the deceased was murdered by the prisoners 
in the dock in connection with an unlawful society. 
Consequently, notwithstanding the time spent over 
the different trials, and despite the fact that when- 
ever the subject of cannibalism came up the Court 
was keenly on the alert to fathom its objects, it is 



not possible to state definitely why the members of 
the Human Leopard Society ate their victims. There 
was, however, one outstanding fact : all the principal 
offenders were men of mature age, past their prime ; 
they were the ones who, so to speak, managed the 
concern, who arranged for victims, and who received 
the most coveted portions of the slaughtered bodies ; 
and I formed the opinion that when they devoured 
the human flesh the idea uppermost in their minds 
was that they were increasing their virile powers. 

There is no sentence in the notes of evidence which 
I can quote in support of this theory, but after an 
extended experience of the point of view of the West 
African mind, and with some acquaintance with the 
subject on the spot, I venture the opinion that the 
Human Leopards eat the flesh of their victims, not 
to satisfy any craving for human flesh nor in con- 
nection with any religious rite, but in the belief that 
their victims' flesh will increase their virility. 

Whether that was the original idea when the first 
person fell a victim to the Human Leopards may 
be questioned. Cannibalism is probably only a bye- 
product in these murders. Originally it may have 
been to bind the murderers together and so pre- 
serve inviolable secrecy that each member of the 
Society partook of a portion of the flesh ; or it may 
have been to continue the leopard-acting, i.e. by 
devouring the prey ; or it may have been with a 
combination of these ideas that cannibalism originated. 
Gradually, however, the notion arose that human 
flesh had specific virtues ; as the Borfima's energy was 
replenished with human fat so would the cannibal be 
reinvigorated with other parts of the human body ; 


and possibly during the last few decades the value 
placed upon human flesh was equal to or even ex- 
ceeded that set upon human fat. Such an explana- 
tion would help to account for the expansion and 
increased activity of the Society during the past 
twenty years. 

Then comes the question whether the punishments 
inflicted by the Special Commission Court will have 
the effect of stamping out the Society. In con- 
sidering this question the environment of the people 
must be taken into account. I have been in many 
forests, but in none which seemed to me to be so un- 
canny as the Sierra Leone bush.- In Mende-land the 
bush is not high, as a rule it is little more than scrub, 
nor is the vegetation exceptionally rank, but there 
is something about the Sierra Leone bush, and 
about the bush villages as well, which makes one's 
flesh creep. It may be the low hills with enclosed 
swampy valleys, or the associations of the slave 
trade, or the knowledge that the country is alive 
with Human Leopards; but to my mind the chief 
factor in the uncanniness is the presence of numerous 
half-human chimpanzees with their maniacal shrieks 
and cries. The bush seemed to me pervaded with 
something supernatural, a spirit which was striving 
to bridge the animal and the human. Some of the 
weird spirit of their surroundings has, I think, 
entered into the people, and accounts for their weird 
customs. The people are by no means a low, savage 
race. I found many of them highly intelligent, 
shrewd, with more than the average sense of humour, 
and with the most marvellous faculty for keeping 
hidden what they did not wish to be known the 


result probably of secret societies for countless 
generations. But beyond such reasoning powers as 
are required for their daily necessities their whole 
mental energies are absorbed in fetish, witchcraft, 
" medicine " such as Borfima and the like. What 
they need is a substitute for their bottomless wells 
of secret societies, for their playing at being leopards 
or alligators and acting the part with such realism 
that they not only kill their quarry but even devour 
it. In my opinion the only way. to extirpate these 
objectionable societies is the introduction of the 
four R's the fourth, Religion, being specially needed 
to supply the place of the native crude beliefs. No 
doubt the energetic action of the Government, and 
in a lesser degree the labours of the Special Com- 
mission Court, will have a good effect; but, I fear, 
only a temporary effect. The remedy must go deeper 
than mere punishment : the Human Leopard Society 
must be superseded by Education and Religion. 


September, 1915. 









THE KABATI CASE . . . . . . . 44 































A NATIVE VILLAGE ....... 56 



HINTERLAND TYPES . . . . . . .71 














THE FOREGROUND . . . . . . ., 104 


TOWN . ..,\. ... . . . 115 






THAT there were cannibals in the Hinterland of Sierra 
Leone in former days appears from the observations 1 
of William Finch, who visited Sierra Leone in August, 
1607. This accurate observer states, " To the South 
of the Bay, some fortie or fiftie leagues distant within 
the Countrey, inhabiteth a very fierce people which 
are man-eaters, which sometimes infest them/' This 
clearly points to the Mende country, where the Human 
Leopard Society was lately flourishing. Finch does 
not, however, refer to anything but pure cannibalism. 

In 1803 Dr. Thomas Winterbottom, the Colonial 
Surgeon, Sierra Leone, wrote an account of the native 
Africans in the neighbourhood of Sierra Leone, and; 
after quoting and criticizing various authorities who 
had alleged the existence of cannibalism in different 
parts of West Africa, states (vol. i. p. 166) as follows : 

" That this horrid practice does not exist in the 

1 These observations, to be found in vol. i. of Samuel Purchas's 
" Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas his Pilgrimes, containing a History 
of the World, in Sea Voyages, and Lande Travells," by Englishmen 
and others, are printed in full at p. 94. 



neighbourhood of Sierra Leone, nor for many hundred 
leagues along the coast to the northward and south- 
ward of that place, may be asserted with the utmost 
confidence, nor is there any tradition among the 
natives which can prove that it ever was the cus- 
tom ; on the contrary, they appear struck with horror 
when they are questioned individually on the subject, 
though at the same time they make no scruple of 
accusing other nations at a distance, and whom they 
barely know by name, of cannibalism." 

Joseph Corry 1 (1806) hints at human sacrifices, 
but neither he nor Major Laing 2 (1822) heard any- 
thing of cannibalism, whilst Harrison Rankin * 
(1834), who appears to have made considerable 
inquiry into the matter, and who speaks of " slavery, 
cannibalism and polygamy " as being deemed domestic 
virtues in the wilds of Africa, specifically mentions 
the only definite and well-ascertained case of canni- 
balism which came to his notice ; it was the case of 
a liberated resident (i.e. a native African liberated 
from a captured slaver) who had wandered in the bush 
and had killed another native for food. Rankin in 
conclusion states, " In the heterogeneous commixture 
of tribes in the British Colony, I discovered none 
which doubted the practice of cannibalism, but none 
of the established residents would plead guilty to the 
charge themselves or admit it of their own nation. 

1 " Observations upon the Windward Coast of Africa, the Religion, 
Character, Customs, etc., of the Natives, etc. etc., made in the years 
1805 and 1806," by Joseph Corry, 1807. 

2 "Travels in the Timmanee, Kooranko, and Soolima Countries in 
Western Africa," by Major Alexander Gordon Laing, 1825. 

8 " The White Man's Grave, a Visit to Sierra Leone in 1834," by 
F. Harrison Rankin, 1836. 



They generally agreed in attributing it to the savages 
of the river Bonny." 

The first trace of human leopards appears in the 
following quotation from Bishop Ingham's " Sierra 
Leone after a Hundred Years/' published in 1894. 
The Bishop writes at p. 272 : " The Temnes believe 
that by witchcraft a man may turn himself into an 
animal, and, in that form, may injure an enemy. A 
man was burnt at Port Lokkoh in 1854 for having 
turned himself into a leopard." His lordship, who 
went to Africa about thirty years and who wrote about 
forty years after the event above mentioned, would 
probably have heard of this fact through Christian 
natives who (even if they had known the real reason 
for the burning) would have been keen to put it to 
the account of witchcraft ; but taking into con- 
sideration the frequent criticisms of Temne " boys " 
at Gbangbama during the sitting of the Special 
Commission Court that it was absurd to waste so 
much time over the prisoners, but that we ought to 
burn all the persons charged with human leopard 
offences together with their villages and families, and 
so stamp out the practice as it had been stamped out 
in the Temne country, it seems more than probable 
that the man was burned not for witchcraft but as a 
human leopard. 

The first definite reference to human leopards is 
to be found in Banbury's " Sierra Leone ; or, the 
White Man's Grave," 1888. At p. 183 he says : 
" Secret cannibalism is also prevalent, though the 
native punishment for this custom is death, and in 
the Mendi Mission (an American society) they possess 
the skin of a large leopard, with iron claws, which 


had once been the property of a man who, under this 
guise, satisfied his horrible craving." This clearly 
refers to human leopard activity. 

Mr. Alldridge, 1 who has had a long and intimate 
acquaintance with the Mende tribes, is of opinion 
that the Human Leopard Society is of no great age, 
probably not more than half a century. All, how- 
ever, that can be said with certainty is that until 
comparatively lately the operations of this society, 
if it existed, were so limited or so secret that the 
Society was unknown to Europeans, or indeed to 
Africans who were in touch with Europeans. 

In 1891 the report from the Mende country that 
a number of cannibals had been burnt to death came 
as a shock to the Executive. The existence of the 
practice of cannibalism was known, but there was no 
idea that there was cannibalism on such a large scale. 
["it seems that the inhabitants of the Imperri chiefdom 
had suffered so heavily at the hands of the cannibals 
that they complained to their chief. The complaints 
becoming too numerous and too insistent to be 
disregarded, the chief called a meeting, and the big 
men of Gangama, Gbangbama, Yandehun, and other 
towns and villages met at Bogo. Here the question 
of cannibalism was discussed, and those present were 
informed that a number of Tongo players 8 had been 
summoned for the purpose of discovering the canni- 
bals, the guilty parties no doubt depending upon 
their Borfima 8 and bribes to escape detection. On 
the appointed day the Tongo players arrived. A 

* " The Sherbro and ite Hinterland," by T. J. Alldridge, 1901. 
Seep. 21. 
See p. 23. 


huge fire was lighted, and the Tongo players were 
directed to throw into the fire all persons whom they 
found to be cannibals. One of the first to be cast 
into the flames was the principal chief who had been 
instrumental in calling in the Tongo players, and it 
is asserted that as many as eighty persons were burnt 
to death, a number of them anticipating their fate 
and of their own accord -thro wing themselves into the 
flames. A mercantile agent who visited Bogo shortly 
after this terrible retribution reported that the spot 
where the burning took place was a sickening sight, 
with its heaps of white ashes and remains of human 
bodies, whilst Mr. Alldridge, who held an inquiry 
into the matter, says that the pyramid of calcined 
bones which he saw at the junction of two roads just 
outside Bogo was about four feet high. | 

But the Government could not view~with indiffer- 
ence such a crude and barbarous administration of 
justice, and on the 5th May, 1892, issued the following 
proclamation : 

""** WHEREAS from time to time in the Imperri 
Country and elsewhere within the Colony of Sierra 
Leone there have been native plays or dances com- 
monly called or known as ' Tongo Play/ whereby 
some of the inhabitants of the said Colony have been 
accused of and denounced as being ' Human Leopards/ 
or as guilty of various crimes and misdemeanours, 
and upon such accusation and denouncement they 
have been unlawfully burnt to death or otherwise 
illegally punished : 

" Now THEREFORE His Excellency the Adminis- 
trator of the Government of the Colony aforesaid 
doth hereby publish, proclaim, and make known 


' That from and after this date the play or dance 
of the Tongo People commonly called and known as 
' Tongo Play/ being contrary to law, must at once 
cease throughout the Colony. 

' That every Tongo person is hereby enjoined and 
required to quit the Colony within twenty-one days 
from the date of this Proclamation on pain of being 
arrested, detained, and deported as a Political 
Prisoner : 

" That every person taking part in any ' Tongo 
Play ' or action resulting thereupon will be prosecuted 
and punished according to law : 

" And all the inhabitants of and sojourners in the 
Colony are hereby enjoined to govern themselves 

With all dread of the Tongo players removed, 
cannibalism burst out afresh towards the end of 1894, 
and at the beginning of 1895 a number of murders took 
place. It was then definitely ascertained that these 
murders had been committed by members of a society 
which afterwards became notorious as the Human 
Leopard Society. To deal with this extraordinary 
class of crime the Government of the Colony of Sierra 
Leone decided that drastic and exceptional legisla- 
tion was necessary, and a Bill entitled the Human 
Leopard Society Ordinance, 1895, was introduced and 
passed as Ordinance No. 15 of 1895. 

The object of the Ordinance was set out in the 
preamble, which read as follows : 

' WHEREAS there exists in the Imperri Country 
a Society known by the name of the Human Leopard 
Society formed for the purpose of committing murder : 

" AND WHEREAS many murders have been com- 


mitted by men dressed so as to resemble leopards and 
armed with a three-pronged knife commonly known as 
a leopard knife or other weapon : 

" AND WHEREAS owing to the number of these 
murders, and the difficulty of detecting the perpe- 
trators of the same, it is expedient to amend the law : 
"Be it therefore enacted by the Government of 
the Colony of Sierra Leone with the advice and consent 
of the Legislative Council thereof as follows " : 

Then followed provisions making it penal for any 
person without lawful excuse to have in his posses- 
sion or keeping any of the articles mentioned in the 
Schedule, viz. : 

"(a) A leopard skin shaped so as to make a man 
wearing it resemble a leopard ; 
" (6) A three-pronged knife ; and 
" (c) A native medicine known as ' Borfima ' " ; 
and under the Ordinance the police were given powers 
where there was reasonable ground of suspicion to 
arrest and to search without a warrant, and heavy 
penalties were imposed for obstructing the police. 

On the 9th October, 1896, a Protectorate was pro- 
claimed over that portion of the Hinterland of the 
Colony of Sierra Leone which had hitherto been 
merely under the control of the Colonial Government. 
Up to this date, for more than half a century, 
the Government of the Colony had claimed and exer- 
cised the right of intervention in disputes which led 
to inter-tribal wars or which interfered with the 
trade routes from the interior, but beyond this and 
the efforts made to stop slave-raiding there had been 
very little interference with the Hinterland natives. 
During the same year it was found necessary 


further to strengthen the hands of the Executive in 
dealing with crimes committed by members of secret 
societies, and the Human Leopard Society Ordinance 
of 1895 was added to, provision being made whereby 
any chief who was proved to have permitted or who 
failed to report within a reasonable time any cele- 
bration of Human Leopard Customs which had 
occurred in any place under his control was liable to 
heavy penalties. 

Under the amended law the Governor-in-Council 
was given power to order the arrest and detention of 
chiefs when it was deemed expedient to do so for the 
preservation of peace and order and the suppression 
of the Human Leopard Society. Power was also 
given to the Governor-in-Council to deport any such 
chief from the British sphere of influence in Sierra 
Leone. The reason for the latter enactment seems to 
have been that it was considered impossible for the 
Society to flourish without the connivance of at least 
some of the chiefs in the part of the territory affected. 
It appeared that while some chiefs had been most 
active in their support of the Government, others had 
given no assistance or had even put obstruction in 
the way of investigating charges by refusing to deliver 
up witnesses and by allowing them to leave the 
country, with the result that in many cases it was 
difficult to bring offenders to justice. Prosecutions, 
however, took place from time to time for offences 
against the Ordinance, and in a number of cases 
convictions were obtained on capital charges as well 
as in lesser offences against the Ordinance. 

During investigations connected with the offences 
committed by members of theHuman Leopard Society , 


it came out that another secret society existed known 
as the Human Alligator Society. This Society appears 
to have been an offshoot of the Human Leopard 
Society and the usual meeting-place of this new 
society was in the vicinity of rivers where crocodiles 
or as they are called locally alligators abound. 

Thereupon the law was further amended in 1901, 
and it was made a felony for any person without 
lawful authority or excuse to have in his possession, 
custody, or under his control an alligator skin shaped 
or made so as to make a man wearing the same 
resemble an alligator. 

During the year 1903 a Circuit Court, presided over 
by a judge who sat with assessors, was constituted, 
and after that date all offences against the Human 
Leopard and Alligator Society Ordinances were tried 
by that Court. From that date up to the middle of 
1912 there were before the Circuit Court 17 cases, 
in which 186 persons were charged with murder 
under the above-mentioned Ordinances ; of these 
persons 87 were convicted and sentenced to death, 
and in many cases the sentence was duly carried 
out publicly in the vicinity of the place where the 
murder was committed. 

In July, 1912, a murder took place at Imperri ; 
the murderers were disturbed at their work ; a man 
who was patently concerned in the murder, but was 
not one of the actual murderers, was arrested ; upon 
this man's shoulders the murderers threw the whole 
burden of explanation. Unable to invent even a 
plausible explanation, he made a clean breast and 
gave the names of those implicated in the murder. In 
the course of his explanation other murders were 


referred to and other names were mentioned, with 
the result that further arrests were made, whilst 
other members of the Society whom he named turned 
King's evidence. In this way the authorities obtained 
information with respect to about 30 human leopard 
murders since 1907, and between 300 and 400 per- 
sons, including several paramount chiefs (Mahawas) 
and a large number of sub-chiefs (Mahawurus), were 
arrested. As in many cases no corroborative evidence 
was procurable, the majority of these persons were 
released, leaving 108, who were committed for trial. 

To meet some of the difficulties which had arisen, 
the Government thereupon brought forward two 
Bills, one of which extended and strengthened the 
existing law as to unlawful societies, whilst the other 
set up a special court for the trial of persons charged 
with offences connected with unlawful societies, and 
authorized the deportation of persons who, although 
acquitted by such court, were, in the opinion of the 
court, a source of danger to the peace of the district. 
The Attorney-General, in introducing the first Bill 
into the Legislative Council of Sierra Leone, said : 

" It will be within the knowledge of Honourable 
Members of this Council that the operations of the 
Human Leopard Societies in the Protectorate 
chiefly in the Northern Sherbro District have been 
lately very active. 

" Not only have many murders been committed 
this year in connection with the Human Leopard, 
but murders which have been committed within the 
last three or four years have only just come to light. 
I can say that, so far as I know, there are over twenty 
murders at least in connection with this Society 


perpetrated this year or within the last three or four 
years just recently come to light. This is a very 
serious state of affairs, and one that has to be dealt 
with in a drastic manner. As far as my knowledge 
of this Society goes, twenty years ago its operations 
were confined to, not the big men of the Protectorate, 
but lesser people ; in fact, it was the paramount chiefs 
who took part in trying to suppress the Society. 
However, it seems as years have gone by, this state 
of things has changed, either from natural inclination 
or from force of circumstances, and the Society has 
become too strong for the chiefs, with the result that 
the paramount chiefs themselves have been drawn 
into the Society and are now the leaders of it. 

" Section 2 of this Ordinance gives the Governor 
power, when any murder has been committed in 
any chiefdom, to declare such chiefdom or any part 
thereof to be a proclaimed district, and gives the 
District Commissioner power to arrest anybody 
therein. In the past the Government's chief difficulty 
has been to get evidence to substantiate a prosecu- 
tion, as it is generally after a long time that people 
come forward to make statements about these murders, 
and, owing to the intimidation practised by the influ- 
ential chiefs upon possible witnesses, the Government 
have always encountered great difficulty in procuring 
witnesses to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 
crime. It will be seen by Section 2 the District 
Commissioner has power to arrest any person whose 
arrest and detention he may consider advisable in 
the interests of justice ; the first person he will 
naturally arrest would be the chief of the district. 

" This power seems drastic, but the circumstances 


of these murders are so exceptional that drastic 
powers are required. Honourable Members will 
remember that in the Principal Ordinance it is a 
serious offence to be in possession of certain articles. 
It is proposed to add three other articles which will 
be seen detailed in Section 7. Up to the present, the 
possession of certain articles has been necessary to 
enable the District Commissioner to deal with persons 
who are known to be active members of the Human 
Leopard Society. It is now made criminal for a man 
to be a member or to take any part in the operations 
of this Society. These are the two chief points in 
the Bill. Another addition is that by Section 5 which 
gives power to the Governor to deport a man who has 
been connected with this Society, and, if he is an 
alien, to banish him permanently from the Colony. 
As the District Commissioners have been obliged to 
arrest a good many persons for whom it may not be 
possible to formulate any charges, Honourable Mem- 
bers will see from Schedule 9 that there is an indem- 
nity clause covering all the arrests which have been 

The three articles mentioned by the Attorney- 
General are described in the Ordinance as : 

" (a) A dress made of baboon l skins commonly 
used by members of an unlawful society ; 

" (6) A ' kukoi ' or whistle commonly used for 
calling together the members of an unlawful society ; 

" (c) An iron needle commonly used for branding 
members of an unlawful society." 

1 This was owing to the fact that a society known as the Human 
Baboon Society had been discovered to exist in one of the Northern 
Districts of the Protectorate. 


In introducing the Special Commission Court 
Ordinance into the Legislative Council the Attorney- 
General said : 

" This Bill gives the Governor power to constitute 
special courts for the trial of all offences under the 
Human Leopard and Alligator Societies Ordinance, 
1909, and also the Ordinance (the Human Leopard 
and Alligator Amendment Ordinance, 1912) which 
has just been read a second time. I may say that 
the usual way of trying offenders in the Protectorate 
is by the Circuit Court with three or four Native 
Paramount Chiefs, but as a great number of these 
chiefs are implicated and have been arrested in the 
Protectorate, it is obvious that the services of many, 
if any at all, will not be available. Moreover, there 
are 64 persons under trial. It will take up too much 
of the time of the Circuit Judge if all were sent for 
trial before the Circuit Court. The Governor has the 
power to appoint Commissioners, usually men who are 
Senior District Commissioners. However, it is not 
desirable to appoint Commissioners in the ordinary 
way to try offences like these. Instead of the prisoners 
being tried by the Circuit Judge in the ordinary way, 
they will be charged before a special court of three 

" It is proposed in the Bill, which I may point out 
will only be in operation for one year, to appoint a 
Special Commission Court consisting of three persons. 
Who they are or who they will be I cannot say ; but 
I can say that they must be either judges or barristers 
of a British court. 

" The Bill also provides that there must be 
unanimity before a prisoner can be convicted. The 


procedure will be practically the same as that of the 
Circuit Court, and all the procedure of the Circuit 
will be followed. 

" It will be observed in Clause 10 that the same 
powers of deportation will be given to the Governor 
when dealing with prisoners convicted by the Special 
Commission Court as with those convicted by the 
Circuit Court. By Clause 11 further power is given 
to the Governor. Unfortunately, it sometimes 
happens in these cases that there are several persons 
who are more or less connected with these Societies, 
but against whom there is no evidence ; they will 
be simply ordered to leave the Colony and will not 
be allowed to return." 

The Colonial Office were fortunate in being able to 
secure the services of an able and distinguished lawyer 
and judge in the person of Sir William Brandford 
Griffith, an Ex-Chief Justice of the Gold Coast Colony, 
to be President of the Court, and he arrived in the 
Colony from England on the 8th December, 1912. 





ALTHOUGH it is impossible to say that the Human 
Leopard Society is connected with the Poro, never- 
theless any account of that Society wouldHBe wanting 
unless accompanied by some reference to the Poro, 
one of the secret societies by which the natives of 
the Sierra Leone Hinterland are educated and were, 
until the British Government took over the adminis- 
tration of the country, ruled. Mr. Migeod, in the 
Journal of the African Society for July, 1915, ven- 
tures the suggestion that Purrus Campus in Ptolemy's 
map of the second century may be no other than the 
Latin for Poro bush ; and everything points to the 
custom being of great antiquity. The earlier writers 
on Sierra Leone dwell almost exclusively upon the 
predatory habits of the Poro and the danger of 
trespassing into the Poro bush, but Major Laing 
(1822), who travelled amongst the Hinterland tribes 
to the north of Sierra Leone, also points to the fact 
that it was the Poro which governed the country. 
He says : 

" Particular pieces of ground (generally eminences 
covered with thick wood) are consecrated to the 
Greegrees and held sacred. I have always seen those 



enclosures approached with reverential awe, and 
have been informed that the smallest encroachment 
upon them would subject the aggressor to the most 
awful punishment from the Purrah/an institution 
which is much dreaded by the whole of this unhappy 
country. Their power supersedes even that of the 
headmen of the districts, and their deeds of secrecy 
and darkness are as little called in question, or in- 
quired into, as those of the inquisition were in Europe, 
in former years. I have endeavoured in vain to 
trace the origin or cause of formation of this extra- 
ordinary association, and have reason to suppose 
that it is now unknown to the generality of the 
Timannees, and may possibly be even so to the 
Purrah themselves, in a country where no traditionary 
records are extant, either in writing or in song. 

" In the early ages of the slave trade (which particu- 
larly prevailed in this country) every nefarious scheme 
was resorted to by the headmen for the purpose of 
procuring subjects for the markets. It may be con- 
jectured that where liberty was so insecure conceal- 
ment not difficult, and the means of subsistence easy 
to be procured, and when the power of the headmen 
did not extend beyond the limits of their own town, 
many individuals, whose safety was endangered, 
would fly to the woods for protection ; and as their 
numbers increased, would confederate for mutual 
support, and thus give rise to secret signs of recog- 
nition and rules of general guidance. It may further 
be supposed, that in a country divided amongst 
numerous petty authorities, each jealous of the other, 
such a confederacy may soon have become too 
powerful for any probable combination against them ; 


and being possessed of power would at length employ 
it in the very abuses to which it had owed its own 

' The headquarters of the Purrah are in enclosures 
situated in the woods ; these are never deserted by 
them entirely, and any man, not a Purrah, approach- 
ing them is instantly apprehended, and rarely ever 
heard of again. The few who have reappeared after 
several years of secretion have always become inter- 
mediately Purrah men themselves ; those who do 
not again appear are supposed to be carried away 
to distant countries and sold. The Purrahs do not con- 
fine themselves always to the seizure of those who ap- 
proach their enclosures, but frequently carry off single 
travellers, and occasionally whole parties, who are 
imprudent enough to pass from one town to another 
in certain districts without applying for an escort 
from the body. To ensure safety, one Purrah man is 
sufficient, who, while leading the party, blows a small 
reed whistle suspended from his neck. At the 
advice of Ba Kooro, I procured one of these persons 
as a guide from Ma Bung to Ma Yasoo, the inter- 
mediate country being thickly inhabited by the 
Purrah. As we passed along, they signified their 
vicinity to us, by howling and screaming in the woods, 
but although the sounds denoted their neighbourhood, 
no individual was seen. 

' The Purrahs frequently make an irruption into 
towns in the night-time, and plunder whatever they 
can lay their hands upon goats, fowls, cloths, pro- 
visions, men, women, or children. On such occasions 
the inhabitants remain shut up in their homes, until 
long after the plunderers retreat. During the time 


that I was in the interior, I always had a sentry over 
my quarters at night, for the protection of the baggage. 
One night, the town in which we slept was visited 
by the Purrah, and my sentinel remained firm at his 
post. When the Purrah came up, an attack was made 
upon him, but the application of the bayonet kept 
them at a distance until I made my appearance, when 
the Purrah, uncertain of their power over a white 
man, scampered off ; they were mostly naked and 
unarmed, but a few had knives. 

" The outward distinguishing marks of the Purrah 
are two parallel tattooed lines round the middle of 
the body, inclining upwards in front, towards the 
breast, and meeting in the pit of the stomach. There 
are various gradations of rank among them, but I 
could never ascertain their respective offices ; persons 
said to be men of rank amongst them have been 
pointed out to me with great caution, as the Timan- 
nees, generally, do not like to speak of them ; but I 
could learn nothing further. Purrah-men sometimes 
quit their retirement, and associate with the towns- 
people, following employments of various kinds, but 
no chief or headman dare bring a palaver against a 
Purrah-man, for fear of a retributive visit from the 
whole body. At stated periods they hold conventions 
or assemblies, and on those occasions the country is 
in the greatest state of confusion and alarm ; no 
proclamation is publicly made, but a notice from the 
chief or headman of the Purrah, communicated by 
signs hung up at different places, with the meaning of 
which they are acquainted, is a summons to them to 
meet on an appointed day, at a certain rendezvous. 
Palavers of great weight, such as disputes between 


rival towns, or offences of such magnitude as to call 
for capital punishments, are always settled by the 
Purrah the headmen of towns not having at the 
present day (whatever power they may have pos- 
sessed formerly) the lives or their subjects or depen- 
dents in keeping. The Purrah may be therefore said 
to possess the general government of the country, 
and from the nature of their power, and the purposes 
to which it is applied, they will probably be found 

a most serious obstacle to its civilization." l 

Every subsequent writer touches upon the Poro, 

and gradually more information is gleaned as to its 
object and procedure and the manner in which it 
exercises its power. The fullest account is to be 
found in "Mr. Alldridge's "The Sherbro and its 
Hinterland" (1901). The Poro is for men only, 
and it begins by training the youth of the country. 
Boys between 7 and 20 are taken into the Poro 
bush for several months. " The meetings of the 
fraternity for initiation of new members always take 
place in the dry season, from November to April, 
as they are held in the Big Bush, a part of which is 
sufficiently cleared and the ground cleaned. The 
opening to the Big Bush is rudely constructed of 
palm leaves, the entrance being through leafy bowers, 
and the aperture serving for a doorway hung with 
country mats. Inside, the place is separated into 
compartments similarly divided by palm leaves 
that entrance also being hung with mats. The 
whole is beneath the dense and overspreading foliage 
of high trees, and is known as the Poro bush." 2 
This Big Bush is usually much higher than the usual 

1 Pp. 92-99. 2 " The Sherbro and its Hinterland," p. 126. 


low bush of the country, and looks more like virgin 
bush a scarce commodity in Mende land. Here the 
boys are taught and trained and initiated, here they 
dance and sing after dark, and here they are imbued 
with the idea of the power and authority of the Poro. 
After some months of training the boy is placed in 

(1) The Messenger or servant class ; or, 

(2) The Mohammedan Mori 1 or the Devil men 
class ; or, 

(3) The Chiefs' class ; 

when further initiation and instruction suitable to 
his class^are given. 

Until the British Government proclaimed a 
Protectorate, the government of the country was 
practically in the hands of the third class. The 
chiefs would assemble in the Poro bush, they would 
be sworn to secrecy, and then would discuss the matter 
in hand ; their orders would be issued and carried 
out by the whole Society ; any member in default 
could be tried by a Poro tribunal inside the Poro bush, 
condemned, and there put away. 

Every member of the Human Leopard Society is 
a member of the Poro, the main supporters of both 
societies are the chiefs, the place of meeting for both 
societies is the Poro bush this suffices to show how 
easily the Poro organization can be used, and no 
doubt has been used, for many of the purposes of the 
human leopards. 

1 When it suits his purpose a Mori man will insist that by his religion 
he can have nothing to do with such a heathen custom as the Poro ; 
but one of the features of the Sierra Leone Hinterland is the remark- 
able way in which Mohammedan Mori men are associated with every 
form of secret society, magic, witchcraft, " medicine," and every 
sort of trickery. 



A quotation which Mr. Alldridge has been so good 
as to allow from his " Sherbro and its Hinterland " 
(pp. 156-159) with respect to the Tongo players 
already alluded to will illustrate the atmosphere in 
which the human leopards worked. 

" Formerly when suspicious circumstances, such 
as frequent sudden deaths, or the continuous dis- 
appearance of individuals, as in the case of the victims 
of the Human Leopards, arose and baffled the local 
fetish, recourse was had to the terrible Tongo player 
system, especially if cannibalism was thought to be 
at the bottom of the mischief. 

"To set this medicine going the intervention of a 
most appalling fetish had to be invoked through a 
class of medicine people from the upper country 
called the Tongo players. 

" As soon as the Tongo players had determined to 
comply with a request from a chief, they sent out 
their emissaries into his towns and villages to obtain 
information concerning suspected people. When all 
was ready the head of the Tongo, named Buamor 
Neppor, attended by his two principal assistants, 
Akawa (Big Thing) and Bojuwa (Great Thing) with 
their following, arrived in the principal town and 
proceeded to clear a space in the bush for their 
encampment, where they made their fetish medicine. 
This place of concealment was called Mashundu. 

" In the investigation one village at a time was 
dealt with. A messenger was despatched to call all 
the men, women, and children to a meeting to be 
held on an appointed day. 


" The meeting was held on a cleared space, called 
the Korbangai, outside the town, to which the people 
had been summoned. They were then drawn up 
into line. Their names were called by a spy from 
their own village, who was in the pay of the Tongo 
players. Certain questions were asked. The names 
of suspected persons were then submitted to the 
medicine-men, hidden in the bush, who professed to 
go through the ordeal by which the guilt or innocence 
of these suspected persons might be determined. 
The operator's ordeal was the plunging his hand 
into a cauldron of boiling oil and pulling out a piece 
of hot iron. If the hand was burned, it was certain 
proof of guilt ; if not burned, of innocence. 

'The victim thus being found out, he was brought 
before the head Tongo player, who asked him if he 
were prepared to pay money. If he were, time was 
allowed for him to send to his family ; meanwhile 
he was detained and stocked. Having got as much 
as they could out of the man and his family, an excuse 
was made, and he was burned to death. 

" On some occasions a Tongo play was held. The 
players were arrayed in barbaric costume. They 
wore a leopard-skin cap, the side flaps of which drooped 
over the face, a leopard tail hung down from the 
back of the cap, and a sort of door bell was attached 
to the end. There was a leopard-skin jacket ; the 
wrists, elbows, and ankles were further adorned with 
strips of leopard skin ; the whole costume being 
completed by short cloth knickers, trimmed with 
leopard skin, and leopard-skin gaiters. 

" The Tongo players came out and danced ; the 
headman and his attendant carried a knobbed staff 


set with sharp cutting instruments, called the Ton- 
gora, which was loosely veiled with leopard skin. 

' While dancing the headman and his two atten- 
dants suddenly rushed up to the suspected persons 
and dealt them heavy blows with the Tongora, blows 
which may or may not have killed them at once ; 
but whether killed or not they were quickly taken 
away and thrown on the fire." 


A word which was constantly heard before the 
Special Commission Court was Borfima, the " medi- 
cine "preferred to in the Human Leopard" Ordinance. 
The word is a contraction of Boreh fima, medicine bag, 
and is usually, but not invariably, tightly bound up 
in a leather package. This package contains, amongst 
other things, the white of an egg, the blood, fat, and 
other parts of a human being, the blood of a cock, 
and a few grains of rice ; but to make it efficacious it 
must occasionally be anointed with human fat and 
smeared with human blood. So anointed and smeared, 
it is an all-powerful instrument in the hands oj its^ 
owner, it will make him rich and powerful, it will 
make people hold him in honour, it will help him 
in cases in the White Man's Court, and it certainly 
has the effect of instilling in the native mind great 
respect for its owner and a terrible fear lest he should 
use it hostilely. An oath administered by the proper 
person and with due ceremony upon Borfima is of 
the most binding nature, and it was by means of 
such oaths that great secrecy was obtained. But 
the potency of this great fetish apparently soon 


evaporated. Owners of the Borfima found that their 
riches did not increase as rapidly as they anticipated, 
they lost cases in the Courts, expectations were not 
realized with respect to adverse witnesses upon 
whose hearts and livers and kidneys imprecations had 
been showered all this showed that the Borfima 
had become weak and needed resuscitation with 
fresh human fat and blood and to obtain this human 
fat and blood was the primary object of the Human 
Leopard Society. 


To give an idea of the mental outlook of the majority 
of the natives before the Court, and so that some of 
the difficulties under which the prosecution laboured 
may be appreciated, allusion should be made to witch- 
doctors and oaths. 

A witch-doctor holds a high position in a native 
community, and is often able to accumulate great 
wealth. The practice of this profession is usually 
confined to certain families, the secrets of the pro- 
fession being handed down from father to son. Only 
one member of the family practises at the same time, 
although he may have a number of assistants who 
are commonly members of his family. Some of these 
witch-doctors profess to be able to name and trace 
their ancestors back to a remote period. All the 
followers of this profession are skilled herbalists and 
have some knowledge of surgery, but they profess to 
effect cures by the aid of witchcraft. If a native is 
ill, it is said that he has been caught by some devil, 
and it is the business of the witch-doctor to rid him 


of that devil. The witch-doctor knows that certain 
devils dislike certain herbs, which, if administered to 
the sick person, may have the effect of disgusting the 
devil and making it fly away. A devil is frequently 
caught and put into a bottle, and then it is for the 
patient to say whether he will have it destroyed, 
which can only be done by fire, or whether he will 
allow it to be released and propitiated by various 
offerings, and by such means transform it into a 
friendly devil, which he can make use of to injure 
some other person. The witch-doctor is frequently 
employed by chiefs or other much-married men to 
discover whether their numerous wives have been 
guilty of acts of infidelity ; they are also frequently 
employed to discover the perpetrators of any crime 
and the place of concealment of stolen property, and 
it is extraordinary what successes they achieve, par- 
ticularly in discovering stolen property. 


Another line of practice in which witch-doctors 
excel is the " pulling of swears " anglice, the removal 
of oaths. When an oath is taken upon an ordinary 
native " medicine/' it is possible for the oath- taker 
to be absolved from the consequences of a breach 
of his oath by engaging a witch-doctor, who, for a fee 
proportionate to the potency of the " medicine " used, 
will " pull the swear." This is accomplished by 
certain ceremonies performed with other " medicines." 
After the " swear has been pulled," the first medicine 
has, so to speak, its teeth drawn. 

The " medicine " on which pagan Mende witnesses 


were sworn before the Special Commission Court was 
compounded every Monday morning by the Court 
interpreter, and consisted of a preparation of salt, 
pepper and ashes mixed with water. A spoonful of 
the mixture was taken by each witness when sworn ; 
if there were many witnesses, fresh " medicine " had 
to be prepared later in the week. The oath adminis- 
tered in the presence of the Court and repeated by 
each witness was, in its English translation, as 
follows : "I (name of witness) swear by this medicine 
to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but 
the truth. Should I tell a lie, if I go to the farm may 
snake bite me, if I travel by canoe may the canoe 
sink, and may my belly be swollen. I swear by my 
liver, my lungs, my kidneys, and my heart that, 
should I tell a lie, may I never be saved, but may I 
die suddenly." 



THE Special Commission Court, consisting of Sir W. 
B. Griffith, President, Mr. F. A. Van der Meulen, and 
Mr. K. J. Beatty, commenced its sittings at Gbang- 
bama in the Northern Sherbro District on the 
16th December, 1912. 

Gbangbama is a town belonging to the Imperri 
Chiefdom, and is situate in the heart of the Mende 
country, having, within a radius of ten miles, several 
towns where murders committed in connection with 
the Human Leopard Society had recently taken place. 

The Court was held in a large barri 1 specially 
erected for the purpose. The prisoners were confined 
in a number of huts surrounded by a stockade, and 
were guarded by a company of the West African 
Frontier Force. Several members of the Freetown 
Bar were present for the purpose of defending various 
persons to be tried by the Court. 

The first two days were occupied chiefly with legal 
questions raised by counsel on the cases before the 

The first case dealt with was the one known as 
the KALE CASE, which occupied the time of the Court 
for nearly a fortnight, and in which the evidence of a 

1 I.e. a thatched roof on wooden posta with thick mud walls about 
two feet high. 



large number of witnesses was taken. Three men l 
were charged with the murder in or about the month 
of March, 1911, of a boy named Kalfalla, aged about 
fourteen years. The murder took place at a village 
named Kale, which is situated on the bank of the 
Mongheri River opposite the town of Mongheri, both 
of which places are within the Jong Chiefdom. The 
accused were all headmen and men of importance in 
the Chiefdom, and the deceased Kalfalla was the son 
of one of them, and was at the time of his death in the 
process of being initiated into the Poro. 

The three boys who were put in the Poro bush at the 
same time as the deceased gave evidence before the 
Court, and described how they had been captured by 
the Poro Devils and taken to a Poro bush at the town 
of Senehun, which was under the control of an impor- 
tant person who was described as the Kumrabai 
(King-Maker) of the Jong Chiefdom. While they were 
in the Senehun Poro bush, two of the accused came 
to the Kumrabai and asked that these boys should be 
allowed to go to the Kale Poro bush, so that they 
should be available to assist in farm work. Permis- 
sion was at first refused, but eventually they were 
allowed to go, where, in accordance with Poro 
custom, they worked out of sight of all women. A 
shimbek (i.e. a grass hut with grass walls) was built 
in the Kale Poro bush for the boys, and for several 
nights they slept in this shimbek. 

These three boys stated that one evening the 
three prisoners, one of whom was the father of 
the deceased, came into the Poro bush and told 

1 At the request of the Colonial Office the names of the accused 
persons in all the oases have been withheld. 



them that they were to come out of the bush that 
night and sleep in the barri (a shelter with low walls) 
at the back of a house belonging to one of the accused, 
the deceased's father. They described the position in 
which they slept, how shortly before daybreak they 
were awakened by a noise, and how they saw one of 
the prisoners holding the deceased boy by the legs, 
whilst another of them, who had a leopard skin over 
the top of his head and hanging down his back, was 
bending over the body. The boys raised an alarm, 
and as the accused ran away they heard sounds 
which resembled the pit-a-pat of hurrying feet, and 
the impression created was that it was a large number 
of persons who were running away from the barri. 
Soon after this the father of the murdered boy again 
appeared on the scene ; he went immediately to the 
barri and appeared to show grief on seeing that his 
son was dead. His accomplices next appeared, 
followed shortly afterwards by a number of other 
men, who assisted in carrying the body to the Poro 
bush. Arrived there the accused, together with some 
other members of the Society, consulted together or, 
as the witnesses described it, " hung head/' It was 
agreed to bury the body at once, and the boys were 
threatened that if they spoke about the matter 
something bad would happen to them ; that if they 
were ever asked what had happened to the dead boy 
they were to say that a snake had bitten him. The 
eldest boy was also sworn on the Borfima not to 
reveal what he had seen and heard. This boy 
described the oath he took, which was to the effect 
that if he revealed this matter and afterwards went 
by water he would drown ; if he went into the bush 


a snake would bite him ; and if he walked on a road 
thunder would strike him. He was further sworn 
on his heart and on his kidneys that both would 
wither away if he broke his oath. 

The boys and several witnesses described the 
wounds on the deceased, three of which were in the 
throat, and the other on the chest. From the descrip- 
tion given of the wounds there could be no doubt 
but that they were caused by some sharp instru- 
ment, probably a knife, and could not have been 
caused by a leopard's claws. The accused, in 
accordance with native custom, were compelled to 
report the matter to the " Grand Master " of the 
Poro, but contrary to native custom they did not 
report until after the body was buried. At this 
breach of custom the Kumrabai was annoyed, but 
he allowed himself to be pacified with a " head of 
money " seven country cloths, valued at about 
thirty shillings. 

Two witnesses who confessed to being members 
of the Human Leopard Society were called and gave 
an interesting description of their initiation into the 
Society. They had joined the Society at different 
times, and belonged to different branches of it. One 
belonged to the branch in the Imperri Chiefdom, 
and the other to a branch in the Gallinas Chiefdom, 
several days' march distant, but their description 
tallied in almost every detail regarding the initiation 
ceremony and the objects of the sacrifice. A mark 
is made on a candidate for initiation, usually on the 
buttocks, so that it will be concealed by the loin 
cloth, the usual and only article of dress worn by 
the ordinary native in those parts. The mark is 


made by piercing the flesh, with an iron needle, raising 
it, and shaving off a thin slice of flesh. The wound 
is then treated with a medicine known as Nikori, 
which apparently has antiseptic qualities, and which 
is made by grinding the bark of the wild ground nut. 
The blood taken from the wound is put on the 
" Borfima," and the novice by this means becomes 
what is spoken of as " joined or married to the 
medicine/' and a full member of the Society. Meet- 
ings are only held when the leaders of the Society 
consider that the Borfima belonging to their par- 
ticular branch requires what is spoken of as " feed- 
ing " or " blooding/' and this can only be done by 
the killing of some person. Apparently one of the 
rules of the Society is that a victim must be provided 
by a member of * the Society ; usually, the person 
called upon to provide the victim is a member who 
has received some material advancement, such as 
becoming a Mahawa (a paramount chief) or a 
Mahawuru (sub-chief), as it is considered necessary 
on such occasions to propitiate the Borfima, which 
is looked upon as all-powerful for good or evil. When 
it is arranged who is to provide the victim, a date is 
fixed, usually four to six days later, a rendezvous is 
decided upon, and the persons who are to do the 
killing are selected. The second meeting is generally 
fixed for just after dusk, usually in the Poro bush, 
and the victim is either enticed to a place in the 
vicinity of the meeting-place, or certain members 
are appointed to do the killing in the town or village, 
and convey the body to the Poro bush, where the 
Borfima is first " blooded " and then the body is 
divided up among the members, and, according to 


the evidence of the ex-members of the Society, the 
flesh is either eaten raw on the spot or taken away 
and cooked. To use the words of one of these 
witnesses, " some like it raw, some roast, and some 
prefer it boiled with rice." The witnesses also 
described how the members of the Society made 
themselves known to each other by a movement of 
the second finger across the palm of another person 
in shaking hands, and also by a peculiar rolling of 
the eyes. Both signs were demonstrated to the 
Court. The witnesses examined certain marks in the 
buttocks of the three prisoners, and alleged that 
they were the marks made at initiation into member- 
ship of the Human Leopard Society. 

The following, somewhat interesting, point of 
native custom was touched on in the evidence : 
When a boy who is in the Poro bush dies, the body 
is buried there, and his death is not announced to 
the female relatives until after the Poro has " been 
pulled " (finished). It is the duty of the Lakai (the 
head-messenger of the Chiefdom and a high officer 
in the Poro) and of him only to announce the death. 
When the Poro is about to be " pulled," all the 
women who have sons in the Poro bush are made 
to stand in a circle at the entrance to the town. 
The Lakai is escorted by his retainers into the midst 
of them. He carries an earthen pot, and if a death 
has occurred among the Poro boys he dashes the 
pot to the ground and breaks it at the feet of the 
mother of the boy, and in this way announces to her 
the death of her son. The women wail for some 
hours, after which a funeral dance is given by the 
parents or the nearest relatives of the deceased ; 


and this dance may be kept up for several days and 
nights, according to the wealth of the family of the 
deceased, who provide the food and drink for the 

None of these ceremonies were performed in con- 
nection with the death of the boy Kalfalla ; but the 
omission of these rites was not a matter to which 
much weight could be attached, owing to the diffi- 
culty of obtaining reliable information on matters 
connected with the Poro, and the custom is only 
mentioned incidentally. 

The defence of the accused was that a bush leopard 
had killed the boy. They admitted that they had 
concealed this fact and had given out that it was 
a snake-bite which had caused the death of the 
deceased, but they said that their reason for doing so 
was in order to save the father of the deceased, the 
first accused in the case, from certain penalties which 
he would have incurred had it come to the ears of 
the Poro Headman that he had allowed a " bush- 
boy " who was still in the Poro to sleep in an open 
place outside the Poro bush. The position, shape, 
and character of the wounds were emphasized to 
show that it must have been a bush leopard which 
had caused them, and it was pointed out that it was 
an offence against the law of the country for any 
one to sleep in an open place exposed to danger, 
such as the barri where the boys had been permitted 
to sleep. The accused alleged that these " bush- 
boys " should not have been allowed to sleep out of 
the Poro bush, and that it was an aggravation of the 
offence that they had been allowed to sleep in an 
open place like a barri ; that the first accused, as 


head of the family, was the person on whom the 
blame would have fallen ; and that he, for these 
reasons, persuaded the others to give out that it was 
a snake-bite which had caused death. If this was 
accepted, they urged, they would not be called on to 
show the spot where the boy was injured, and they 
added that the burial was hurried so that people 
should know as little about it as possible. Had the 
burial been delayed, the women might have got to 
know, and that would have been a further offence 
against Poro law. It was also submitted that it 
was contrary to nature that the first accused would 
have murdered his own son in such a cold-blooded 

The prisoners were ably defended, but the argu- 
ments put forward for the defence did not create 
doubt as to the main facts deposed to by the wit- 
nesses for the Crown. 

From the evidence of the witnesses one thing emerged 
conclusively viz. that it was no bush leopard which 
killed the boy, but that it was some person or persons 
simulating a leopard who murdered him ; and the 
evidence of the other boys that they had heard the 
pattering of many feet outside the barri when they 
raised the alarm pointed to the fact that there were 
a number of persons concerned in the murder. 

The Court could come to no other conclusion than 
that the murder was committed in connection with 
the Human Leopard Society, and that the first and 
second accused were the actual murderers of the 
boy Kalfalla. These two men were found guilty of 
murder and sentenced to death, and were publicly 
executed at Mattru in the presence of the acting 


paramount chief and a large number of his people 
on the 25th January, 1913. 

The third accused, who had taken a prominent part 
in concealing the murder, and who was proved to be 
leading member of the Human Leopard Society, was 
found guilty of being an accessory after the fact to 
murder, and was sentenced to life imprisonment. 



THE second case dealt with was the one known as the 
Imperri case. Fifty-four persons were charged with 
the murder of a boy aged about twenty years. They 
were also charged with being accessories after the 
fact to murder and further with being members of 
an unlawful society : to wit, the Human Leopard 

The murder took place on 13th July, 1912. 

The Crown Prosecutor, for want of evidence to 
corroborate the story told by accomplices who had 
turned King's evidence, only proceeded against fifteen 
of these persons on the capital charge. 

The case was commenced on the 13th January 
and the verdict was given on the 3rd March. Fifty- 
nine witnesses gave evidence, and the notes of evidence 
taken reached nearly a thousand foolscap pages. 

The facts as alleged by the witnesses for the Crown 
were as follows : 

Very early on the morning of Sunday the 8th July, 
1912, the leaders of the Human Leopard Society 
met at some place near the town of Victoria, the 
chief commercial town in the Imperri Chiefdom, 
and decided to hold a general meeting of the Society 
that same evening in the Imperri Poro bush. The 
Santiggies (messengers) of the Society were despatched 



to warn members to attend, and about sixty of them 
met that same evening. 

They began to arrive at the rendezvous, which was 
a clearing in the centre of the Poro bush, soon after 
dark. There was only one path leading into this 
clearing, which was surrounded with dense bush, 
and on this path were stationed certain executive 
members of the Society, who passed the members 
along after they were satisfied as to their member- 
ship. They proved this chiefly by the peculiar 
handshake of the Society. 

No lights were allowed at this meeting. Towards 
midnight the President of the Society, who owed his 
position to his being the most important man in the 
Chiefdom, arrived with his staff, and after the names 
and rank of the persons present were called, he pro- 
ceeded to address the meeting. He announced that 
the object of calling members together was to discuss 
and consider the question of providing food, or in 
other words " blood " and fat, for their medicine. 
That it was some time since the parent Borfima 
was fed, and that it was necessary that their own 
Borfimas should also be blooded and anointed. 

A discussion then arose as to the means of pro- 
viding the necessary victim. One of the members 
present was asked to supply a victim, and when he 
demurred it was pointed out to him that it was his 
turn to do so by the rules of the Society, and it was 
suggested that the person to be supplied should be 
his adopted son Yagba. Both this member and the 
uncle of the boy Yagba protested strongly, a heated 
discussion followed, and finally the two members 
in question were informed that unless they im- 


mediately consented to give the boy asked for, either 
one or both of them would take his place. Under fear 
of this threat they consented. 

It was then arranged that the members should 
meet again on the Friday following, and both the 
father and uncle of the promised victim were warned 
that if the boy disappeared or there was any difficulty 
about obtaining him one of them would be taken 
instead. After nominating two of the members 
to do the killing and others to convey the body to 
the Poro bush the meeting was adjourned. 

On the following Thursday a boy died in the town 
of Imperri and his body was buried next day. In the 
ordinary course of events there would have been a 
funeral dance that evening, but fearing that it might 
interfere with their projects, some of the members 
of the Human Leopard Society secured its post- 

As it grew dark that evening, the members of the 
Society gathered together in the Poro bush. The 
members deputed to do the killing were dressed in 
their regalia of leopard skin. 

As the evening wore on and the time for sleep came, 
the boy Yagba, under instructions from his uncle, 
spread his mat on the verandah of the latter's house 
and lay down and eventually went to sleep. About 
midnight the two murderers arrived and crept on all 
fours up to where Yagba was lying. One of them 
held him while the other stabbed him in the neck 
with a knife. Death was not instantaneous, and the 
boy moaned and beat the ground with his feet. This 
awakened some women and a youth who were in 
the house, and their screams aroused the whole town. 




An attempt was made by the two murderers to drag 
the body away, but as a number of people rushed out 
of their houses they gave up their attempt and fled 
into the bush where they warned the others of what 
had happened and got rid of their leopard-skin dress. 
The members belonging to the town hastened to get 
back to their houses before their absence should be 

The townspeople collected round the body of the 
murdered boy and kept saying to each other, " What 
is this trouble ? " " What has happened ? " The 
uncle of the boy, who had been beside him the whole 
time and who appeared to be very upset at seeing 
the body, said in reply to the questions on all sides 
that koribrah (leopard people) had killed him. He 
was taken aside by some of the accused, and the 
seriousness of his admission pointed out to him. 
He was told to say that owing to distress of mind he 
did not know what he was saying, that what he 
really meant to say was that it was a bush leopard 
that had killed the boy, and that he himself had seen 
two leopards rushing out of the town after the alarm 
had been raised. He was promised a sum of money 
if the matter was hushed up on the basis of the 
death being attributed to a bush leopard, but it was 
incidentally mentioned to him that if he did not 
succeed in creating this belief the town would in all 
probability lose another of its citizens, as their 
Borfima had not yet been fed, and they would, in a 
certain event, know where to look for a victim. The 
story was then circulated that it was a bush leopard 
that had killed the boy ; and there was some confir- 
mation of this story by the statements of some women 


and boys who said they saw what looked like 
a leopard running away after the alarm had been 
given. From the evidence it appeared that these 
people had mistaken the murderers in their dresses 
of leopard skins for real leopards, which are numer- 
ous in the vicinity. 

About 6.30 the following morning the clerk to the 
District Commissioner overheard a man at the town 
of Gbangbama tell a friend that a bush leopard had 
killed some one at the town of Imperri the night 
before. The clerk immediately proceeded with some 
police or, as they are called in the Protectorate, Court 
Messengers to the town of Imperri, and arrived there 
soon after 8 a.m. They were met by the chief men 
of the town and taken to view the body of the boy 
Yagba, several of the accused being present and 
volunteering the information that a bush leopard 
had killed the deceased. The Court Messengers, as 
a preliminary step, took into custody all the people 
who occupied the house where the deceased had 
been killed, including the uncle of the boy. Mean- 
while a vigorous search was prosecuted to find the 
spoor of a leopard, but none was to be found in or 
about the town. His uncle was then taken on one 
side by the clerk and Court Messengers and in view 
of the nature of the wounds and the fact that there 
were no signs of any leopard was asked to explain 
how the boy had come by his death. 

It was clear, owing to the nature of the wounds, 
that no leopard had killed the boy ; and, faced with 
this fact and his admission of the night before, he 
gave an account of the murder and the names of the 
persons concerned in it. As many of these persons 


as could then be found were forthwith taken into 
custody, the others were subsequently arrested, and 
after a preliminary examination before the District 
Commissioner all were committed for trial. 

The chief testimony against the accused was that 
of two accomplices who had turned informers. These 
men confessed to being members of the Human 
Leopard Society and as having been present at the 
murders of several victims of the Society. They 
gave evidence to the effect that all the accused bore 
the mark of the Leopard Society. The mark on each 
of the accused was pointed out during the hearing of 
the case, but although there were certain peculiarities 
about the mark, and although its position on the 
person of each of the accused was in most instances 
approximately the same, yet, owing to the fact that 
the majority of them had other marks, similar in 
shape and colour, some doubt existed as to whether 
the marks pointed out were really the marks received 
on initiation into the Society. 

After hearing the evidence, no one could doubt 
that a murder had been committed, and that that 
murder had been committed by members of the 
Human Leopard Society. Their plans miscarried, 
they were disturbed at their work by the cries of the 
occupants of the house ; the actual murderers finished 
their work, but those deputed to carry away the 
body failed, the uninitiated in the village awakened, 
and saw what had happened, and it was too late 
to remove the body. The question then followed 
as to whether the persons charged were those who 
had actually committed or who had taken part in 
the murder. The evidence of the accomplices was 


strong, but the chief difficulty in regard to the case 
for the Crown was to obtain corroboration of the 
evidence of these accomplices. In cases of this sort 
where the principal men are bound together by the 
bonds of guilt as well as of secrecy, where the victim 
is provided by the head of the family, who, instead of 
ferreting out the crime, uses all his influence to have 
the matter hushed up, and where the whole people 
cower down in dread of the terrible vengeance 
threatened by the awe-inspiring Borfima, it is not to 
be wondered at that it is exceptional to be able to 
procure independent evidence. The relatives, even 
the mother of the victim, will not come forward 
willingly, and when such witnesses are forced to give 
evidence they will only say what they think is non- 
committal, and from that they will not budge. They 
look upon the " medicine " as being responsible, and 
hold the view that the members of the Society are 
forced into killing a victim in order to " feed " the 

In this case, however, many of the non-committal 
statements pieced together formed important cor- 
roborative evidence, and that, together with other 
evidence, satisfied the Court as to the guilt of six of 
the accused, who were found guilty of murder. 

The sentence on four of them was publicly carried 
out at the town of Imperri on 18th April, 1913. The 
fifth and sixth, who were domestic slaves, were also 
found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, but 
the sentences, on the recommendation of the Court, 
were afterwards commuted by the Governor-in- 
Council to life imprisonment. The Lavari to the 
principal accused was found guilty of being an acces- 




sory after the fact to the murder and was sentenced 
to life imprisonment. 

There is little doubt that but for the chance over- 
hearing by the District Commissioner's clerk that a 
boy had been killed by a leopard this crime would 
never have been brought to light. After a time, 
when all trace of evidence had vanished, it would 
have been given out that the boy had been killed 
by a bush leopard. And this story would have been 
all the more difficult to disprove from the fact that 
in that neighbourhood leopards abound. Within 
a few hundred yards of where the Court sat was 
a leopard trap, whilst during the hearing of this 
particular case at least two leopards were shot within 
a mile of the Court barri. 



THE next case dealt with was the one known as the 
Kabati Case, from the village where the murder took 
place. In this and the following cases Lieut. -Colonel 
H. G. Warren sat in place of Mr. Van der Meulen, 
who proceeded on leave. 

Originally fifty-six persons had been charged and 
committed for trial on a charge of murder. 

The person murdered was a young woman named 
Mini, and the murder took place in or about the 
month of May, 1911, at Kabati, a small village in the 
Northern Sherbro District of the Protectorate. 

As in the previous case, sufficient corroborative 
evidence to support the stories told by accomplices, 
who were the chief witnesses for prosecution, could 
not be obtained, and the Crown Prosecutor decided to 
proceed against only three of the prisoners, entering 
a nolle prosequi on the capital charge against the 
remainder. These latter were subsequently prose- 
cuted, and a number of them were found guilty of 
being members of an unlawful society. 

Of the three men proceeded against two were men 
of importance in the Protectorate ; the first accused 
was a paramount chief or Mahawa, and the second 
was a sub-chief or Mahawuru, the third accused being 
a brother of the Mahawuru. The girl Mini was 



weak in intellect, but to what extent it was not easy 
on the evidence to say. She was the niece of the 
second accused, the Mahawuru, and for some time 
prior to the murder had formed a member of his 
household. The story told by the witnesses for the 
Crown was as follows : 

Some time toward the end of May, 1911, a meeting 
of the members of the Human Leopard Society was 
convened and held one evening at Mosenge, a deserted 
village on the borders of the Imperri and the Jong 
Chiefdoms, and was attended by most of the members 
belonging to that particular branch of the Society. 
Soon after dark the members began to arrive, and 
after giving the countersign were admitted to the 
meeting. A small fire was lighted, round which the 
members sat. Three Mahawas or paramount chiefs 
were present, and they with other big men of the 
Society sat in front with their subjects, in order of 
precedence, immediately behind them. When all 
those summoned were assembled, the second accused 
the girl Mini's uncle was elected Mahein (presiding 
officer) of the meeting. He first called the names 
of all the principal men, who answered to their names. 
The senior member then, in accordance with the cus- 
tom, said to the second accused, "You " mentioning 
his name " have called a meeting of the members of 
this Society, which should not meet except when 
important business is to be done ; we therefore look 
to you now to tell us what that important business is/' 
The second accused, after walking three times round 
the circle, proceeded to address the meeting. He 
said, " The spirits have spoken to me and told me 
that unless we want something bad to happen to us 


we should put blood on our Borfimas when four days 
and four nights have passed. I invite you all to 
meet again, and at that meeting I myself will supply 
a person whose blood will satisfy the hunger of the 

In answer to inquiry the second accused further 
informed those present that the person he proposed 
to give would be his niece Mini, whom he stated had 
a devil in her. Then after some discussion as to how 
the murder was to be carried out and after details 
had been arranged the meeting broke up. 

On the evening of the fourth day after this the 
members of the Society reassembled at Mosenge, and 
about sixty persons were present. When all the 
expected guests had arrived, the second accused, who 
was still Mahein, called over as before the names of 
those present. It was arranged that they should 
remain at Mosenge until it was sufficiently late for 
ordinary villagers to have retired for the night. 
Towards midnight a move was made in the direction 
of Kabati, which was about three miles distant, and 
on their arrival at the outskirts of the village they 
were led to some bush, where they were told to sit 
down. The second accused, who was the Mahawuru 
of Kabati, and his brother then went into the village, 
and were quickly followed by members wearing the 
regalia in the form of the leopard skin of the Society. 
The woman Mini had for some days previous to this 
been sleeping alone in a room at the back of her 
uncle's house, at some distance from where his wives 
and the other members of his household slept, and 
one of his domestic slaves, who for the purpose of 
performing menial acts had been made a member of 


the Society, was placed on guard over her. On this 
man signalling that all was well the second accused 
went into the room and quickly awakened the girl, 
who followed him down the bush path to where 
the other members were waiting. She came quite 
quietly, and did not appear to realize that anything 
unusual was occurring. It was stated by persons 
present that a firi (a horse tail elaborately decorated 
with sebbehs) and an Aku (Yoruba) cap to which 
more sebbehs (charms) were attached were then 
produced by two important members of the Society, 
and that a certain ceremony was gone through which 
included the pointing of these things at the girl. 
It was then announced that members present need 
not feel any alarm in regard to what was going to 
happen, as the ceremony performed would have the 
effect of warding off suspicion and would assist them 
in concealing what was going to happen that 

It was alleged that the third accused then went 
behind the girl and stabbed her in the side with a 
large knife. She fell forward, and was immediately 
seized by four men and hurriedly carried farther 
along the path to a small clearing. The other 
members of the Society fell in behind. The body 
was deposited near where the Society's " medicine/' 
the Borfima, had been placed, and veins of the victim's 
throat were opened so that the blood might flow over 
the " medicine/' 

After the parent Borfima had been blooded, a few 
persons who were sufficiently important to be able 
to keep their own Borfimas advanced in order of 
seniority and collected a few drops of blood on their 


" medicine " which they had brought with them 
for that purpose. 

Two men were then nominated to cut up the body. 
The belly was first cut open and flapped over the 
chest and the interior organs were removed. The 
breasts were then cut away and given to one of the 
Mahawas (chiefs), and part of the belly, the finger and 
toe-nails and the scalp containing the hair were given 
to the first accused. The heart was set aside to be 
sent to an important and educated member, who was 
represented at the feast, but who did not wish to be 
present himself. The more important persons present 
named in turn the particular piece of flesh they 
wanted, and the remainder of the body was divided 
among those of lesser importance. A fire was lighted, 
over which a certain quantity of flesh was cooked, 
but a number of the members appeared to have vied 
with each other in seeing what quantity of raw flesh 
they could eat. The bones, after being picked clean, 
were left lying near the spot, and the " empty skull " 
was thrown down an incline towards a stream some 
twenty or thirty yards away. 

On the 30th May, as near as could be calculated 
by the phases of the moon as described by the wit- 
nesses, the Lavari of the second accused approached 
him and mentioned that he had a matter to discuss 
with him in the presence of the other big men of the 
town. A meeting was immediately called, and those 
summoned assembled under a cocoa-nut tree near the 
compound of the second accused, who, as has been 
already stated, was Mahawuru or sub-chief of Kabati 
village. The Lavari, who was an old man and of some 
importance in the village, said that he had summoned 


those present, as it had been brought to his notice 
that the girl Mini was missing ; that apparently no 
effort had been made to find her ; that trouble had 
been caused in the past by persons disappearing ; 
and that as they did not wish to be viewed with sus- 
picion by the Government Authorities they should 
make every effort to trace the missing girl. The 
second accused said that it was true that his niece 
was missing, but that he did not know that there was 
any occasion for alarm, as the girl was crazy, and 
that she had disappeared before and had been found 
without much difficulty ; that she had probably 
gone to her parents at the town of Yandehun ; that 
he was quite able to look after his own affairs, and 
that if he had wanted the help of the people of the 
town he would have asked for it ; that he looked 
upon it as oinciousness on the part of his Lavari to 
have interfered in a matter connected with his house- 
hold ; and he added that there was nothing they need 
do but " beg him " (apologize to him) for making a 
lot of unnecessary trouble. That evening he left 
the town and was absent for some days. On his 
return he summoned the people together to the 
village court barri and said that some one, whose 
name he had not yet been able to ascertain, had been 
to the village of Makelpe and had spread a report 
that he had sacrificed his niece, and he angrily asked 
who had done this. Of course every one denied hav- 
ing said anything, and some discussion arose between 
the people and himself as to why he had not told 
them at the time of the disappearance of his niece. 
One of those present expostulated with him for his 
callous conduct in not having caused a general search 


to have been made immediately after it was noticed 
that the girl was missing. To this he replied that 
he had told certain persons ; but these persons, on 
being referred to, stated that it was not till after 
they had commented on the girl's disappearance 
that he had mentioned anything about her being 

At this meeting it was decided that all the young 
men of the town should search the fakais (farm 
villages) round about, and search-parties were then 
and there formed. It should be mentioned in con- 
nection with this meeting that a rumour had reached 
the town that the disappearance of the girl had been 
reported to the Government, and this probably 
accounts for the strong action taken by the people 
in expressing dissatisfaction with their Mahawuru. 

Towards the evening of the same day, whilst the 
people were searching, the sound of " bugles " was 
heard, and two paramount chiefs arrived from oppo- 
site directions with their followers simultaneously in 
the town. One of these was the Mahawa or para- 
mount chief of Imperri ; the other was the Mahawa 
or paramount chief of Jong, and was the first accused. 
It was about this time that the third accused dis- 
appeared from the town. The two Mahawas (to give 
them their native titles) announced that they had 
been sent by the District Commissioner to investigate 
the circumstances connected with the disappearance 
of the missing girl, and they said that they had been 
instructed to see that a proper search was made. 
Before the Special Commission Court witnesses swore 
that both these Mahawas were actually present at 
the murder, but the people of the town of Kabati at 


- * - 


i . ^ .-. 



that time seem to have had no suspicion that either 
of them was in any way connected with the dis- 
appearance of the girl, or that they were members 
of the notorious Human Leopard Society. The 
Mahawas then ordered the arrest of all the big men 
of the town, who, including the second accused, were 
detained in a barri whilst the remainder of the 
townspeople were instructed to continue searching ; 
but no trace of deceased was found that day. 

The next day search was continued and some bones 
were found. The Mahawas went to see these bones, 
which were less than half a mile from the town, and 
every one appears to have agreed that they were the 
bones of the missing girl. 

Some of the people appeared to have had infor- 
mation that the Assistant District Commissioner was 
on his way from the town of Victoria, which was 
then his headquarters, to visit the town of Kabati, 
and he arrived there soon after the discovery of the 
bones. He was taken to where the bones were along 
a path that had been newly cut through the bush, 
but he noticed what looked like an old path leading 
from the place where the bones were found, and that 
the bush round the spot appeared to have been 
cleared at some recent date ; this, however, was 
explained by pointing to a farm on the other side of 
the stream, and by saying the people had probably 
come there to cut sticks to build a farm-house. He 
noticed a black patch about a yard in diameter, and 
remarked that there had been a fire there, but one 
of the Mahawas (the first accused in the case) remarked 
that that was where the body had rotted. 

The Assistant District Commissioner stated in his 


evidence that on one side of the black patch were 
some bones which looked like leg bones, and piled 
on them were other small bones, and he said that from 
their position they must have been so placed by human 
agency. They were just as if people had been gather- 
ing sticks. There were other bones scattered about 
within a radius of fifteen yards ; the bones were 
dry, and he found no marks upon them ; he thought 
that the thigh bones were attached to the pelvis, and 
the greater portion of the spinal column was intact. 
He made a careful search for clothing and beads, but 
there was no trace of any. He said that on the way 
to the bones the first accused told him that the girl 
was crazy and had gone into the bush and died. 

After seeing the bones and ordering them to be 
collected, the Assistant District Commissioner asked 
for the skull, and was told that it was at the foot of 
the hill near a stream just below the bones. He 
went there with the first accused and others, and 
found the skull at the edge of the stream in a spot so 
exposed that it was visible for about twenty yards 
inside the farm across the stream. The skull was 
absolutely clean, bleached, and " perfectly dry/' At 
the top of one jaw, level with the ear, the bone was 
broken. There was no doubt in the minds of any 
of the witnesses that these were the bones of the 
girl Mini. No further trace of her was hinted at and 
no cross-examination was directed to that point. 

The Assistant District Commissioner then released 
all the villagers who had been arrested except the 
second accused, the uncle of the deceased. He also 
held an inquiry into the circumstances of the girl's 
disappearance, and, as the result, took the second 


accused in custody to Victoria. Being unable, how- 
ever, to obtain any evidence to connect him with 
the death of the girl Mini, the Assistant District 
Commissioner placed the matter in the hands of the 
Mahawa of Jong, the first accused, who found that 
his Mahawuru, the second accused, had failed to 
report the disappearance of his niece, and fined 
him fifty pounds and deposed him from his 
office of Mahawuru. There, for the time, the 
matter ended. 

In July, 1912, the Imperri murder already dealt 
with took place. The murderers were disturbed at 
their work, and one of their number on whom sus- 
picion was cast when called upon for explanation 
admitted that it was a leopard murder, and mentioned 
the names of several persons who were implicated. 
He was brought to Gbangbama on the 15th July, 
1912, having previously confessed to being a member 
of the Human Leopard Society and as having been 
present at the meetings where the murder was 
arranged. A number of names were mentioned by 
him in connection with this murder, and amongst 
them was that of the second accused. Facts with 
respect to previous murders were then elicited ; but 
although he mentioned a great many names he did 
not mention those of the two Mahawas or paramount 
chiefs as having been present at any of those murders. 

This mentioning of names continued up to the 25th 
July when his various statements were reduced to 
writing. This writing was witnessed by the two 
Mahawas concerned, who, up till that time, had 
retained the confidence of the Government Officers. 
On Monday the 29th July the District Commissioner 


had an interview with the informer for the first time 
without the presence of the Mahawas, and something 
was said which induced the District Commissioner 
to order forthwith the arrest of one of them, the first 
accused. At once Court Messengers were sent to 
search his quarters in Gbangbama town. They 
found in a box in his house a chewing-stick of a 
peculiar kind, a cap with sebbehs (charms), and an 
envelope containing human hair, and in a gown 
hanging close to his bed they found a small packet 
containing nine parings of human nails. His house 
at Mattru was also searched, and there was found a 
firi (i.e. a horse tail with cloth wrapped round the 
handle) and another packet containing eighteen 
parings of human finger and toe-nails. All these 
articles he admitted were his property, with the 
exception of the sebbeh cap. 

In this case, too, evidence was given as to the 
alleged leopard marks upon the three accused. But 
this evidence as to marks broke down. In the first 
place, the witnesses were not in agreement as to the 
alleged leopard marks upon the accused ; secondly, 
the medical evidence was not convincing ; thirdly, 
some other prisoners were produced by the defence 
with a number of marks which to the ordinary eye 
more or less corresponded with the so-called leopard 
mark, one of these men being literally covered with 
small-pox marks, some of which were not unlike the 
so-called leopard mark ; fourthly, a mark produced 
by the Government Medical Officer, in accordance 
with the directions of one of the expert witnesses, 
was quite unlike the so-called leopard mark ; and 
finally a number of girls and boys, whose ages ranged 


from seven to sixteen years, were produced by the 
defence with marks, 1 as far as the ordinary person 
could judge, exactly corresponding with the so-called 
leopard mark. 

There is little doubt that members of the Human 
Leopard Society are marked on entering into the 
Society, but such marks are so like the marks left by 
wounds caused by accident or disease that it is not 
possible for any ordinary person to distinguish, with 
any certainty, the difference between them. 

The defence of the first accused, the Mahawa of 
Jong, was that the story of the informer, so far as he 
was concerned, was absolutely devoid of truth, and 
that at the time of the alleged murder he was suffer- 
ing from the effects of boils under his arm so that he 
was unable to move about ; he gave evidence per- 
porting to show that the possession of the firi, the 
chewing-stick, the nails and hair was perfectly lawful, 
and stated that the sebbeh cap was neither his pro- 
perty nor was it found in any of his boxes ; whilst he 
produced official testimony with a view to showing 
that he was earnestly striving to eradicate cannibal 
murder from his chiefdom. 

Furthermore he alleged that the chief witness had 
a special ill feeling towards him because of a land 
dispute between the Kabati and Imperri people, and 
that he had only mentioned his name in connection 
with this matter after compulsion on the part of the 
District Commissioner. He further stated that some 
time after his election as Mahawa certain villages, 
including Kabati, which had been a part of Imperri 

1 Not artificial marks, but scars, the result of ulcers induced by larva 
of the tumbo fly or of bruises obtained when working in the bush. 


Chiefdom, were transferred to his Chiefdorn. He 
stated that it was well known that cannibal murder 
was rife in these villages, but that it was unknown 
in the other parts of his chiefdom. He pointed out 
that to put a stop to cannibalism he had made certain 
rules with regard to strangers reporting their presence 
in villages, as to people not sleeping outside a house, 
as to proper doors for houses and such like. He had 
also assisted the Government in the Mochach murder 
about September, 1910, and in the Sawura murder 
in 1911, and had done what he could at the request 
of the District Commissioner to elucidate the facts 
in this very case. He drew attention to the fact that 
the second accused had been handed over to him to 
be dealt with in accordance with country law, and 
that he was sent for by the Government Authorities 
to assist in the Imperri case, when he did all he could 
to elicit information from the very informer who was 
now giving evidence against him. 

The firi,he stated, was an heirloom and appurtenant 
to his office, and witnesses for the prosecution ad- 
mitted that big Mahawas do possess firis, which are 
used as the credentials of important messengers. He 
explained that the chewing-stick was a present from 
a Muhammedan to whom he had rendered some 
service, and that the Arabic text found in the wrapper 
was nothing more than an invocation that none but 
seasonable words might drop from the lips of him who 
used it. 

As to the hair found in his house, it seemed clear 
that many persons, even educated persons in Free- 
town, have a superstition about their hair being left 
about, and take precautions to have it disposed of in 


such a way that nobody can get possession of it. 
Strong " medicines " are supposed to be made with 
human hair, and with this " medicine " injury can 
be inflicted on the person from whom the hair was 
obtained. He said that soon after he arrived at 
Gbangbama he had his hair cut and that he kept it 
pending his return to Mattru, where he intended to 
have it destroyed. Finger and toe-nails also appear 
to be capable of malevolent use, and should not be 
left lying about ; he said that he had cut his finger- 
nails just before he left Mattru, and had put the parings 
carefully in his gown, intending to get rid of them 
later, but forgot about them, and that was how they 
came to be in the pocket of his gown when his quarters 
were searched. As to those found at Mattru, he 
stated that the wife who assisted him when cutting 
them must have put them away in the small box 
in which they were found, that that box used to 
stand upon his table, and that his wife must have 
forgotten them, but that they were quite safe, as the 
box was the one in which he used to keep his pocket 
cash and was usually locked. 

The sebbeh cap he denied the ownership of. He 
stated that it belonged to an Aku or Yoruba medicine 
man who came to Gbangbama about the same time 
as himself, that this man placed the box containing 
the cap in his house, and that the cap was not found 
with his things, but in another box altogether. This 
statement was to some extent supported by the fact 
that the sebbehs when opened did not, as was ex- 
pected, contain Arabic texts, but only black powder 
and tree bark, and he called as his witness the Yoruba 
man to whom he alleged the cap belonged. 


The defence of the second accused, the girl's uncle, 
was that Mini was of weak intellect, and that during 
a period of insanity she had wandered into the bush, 
and, not being able to find her way out, had died 
there. He stated that she first became insane after 
the birth of her second child, and that she became 
so violent that she had to be put in the stocks. He 
said that he obtained and had given her some sacred 
water and a charm which cured her for a time, that 
she subsequently lost the charm and became insane 
again, and could not be made to wear any clothes, 
that he was absent from Kabati at the time she 
disappeared, and that on his return he had made 
every effort to find her. 

The third accused's defence was that he had left 
Kabati about six weeks before the girl's disappear- 
ance and was absent in another chiefdom at the time 
of her disappearance ; that on the 10th June, 1911, 
he arrived at Yandehun, where he had a " wife," and 
then for the first time heard of what had happened 
in Kabati, whither he immediately returned. 

The prisoners were defended by counsel, and forty- 
five witnesses were examined in the case. 

The chief witness for the Crown was the accomplice 
who had turned informer. His evidence on one or 
two points one could not help regarding with suspicion, 
though on the other hand he gave his evidence freely ; 
he was quite open, there was little hesitancy, he did 
not shelter himself under generalities, but was always 
prepared to go into details. In view of the fact that 
he had given evidence upon so many different occa- 
sions, and that he had to keep in mind so many 
different meetings, one was struck with the small 


number of inconsistencies, and every now and then 
it was noticeable how two unconnected details fitted 
in with the rest of the evidence ; then the further he 
was cross-examined the more truthful did his narra- 
tive appear, matters which seemed doubtful at first 
were cleared up, and at the end his evidence seemed 
stronger than at the beginning, and formed a marked 
contrast to the evidence of many of the other wit- 
nesses. Finally an inspection of the locus in quo 
tended to confirm his testimony. But this witness 
being an accomplice, corroboration of his evidence as 
to each of the accused was necessary before the 
question could be considered as to whether or not 
the accused were guilty of murder. There was ample 
corroboration as to the circumstances of the murder, 
and that it was committed by members of the Human 
Leopard Society, but in addition to this it was neces- 
sary that there should be corroboration of the evidence 
of the accomplices as to the identity of each of the 
persons charged. 

On the question whether it was proved that the 
first accused, the Mahawa or paramount chief, took 
part in the murder of the girl Mini the Court was 
divided and the majority were in favour of a verdict 
of NOT GUILTY. This man was, however, deposed 
from the chieftainship, and has, on the recommenda- 
tion of the majority of the Court, in accordance with 
the provisions of the Special Commission Court 
Ordinance, been expelled from the Colony and Pro- 
tectorate of Sierra Leone. 

There was ample corroboration as well as strong 
circumstantial evidence against the second accused, 
the uncle of deceased, and he was found guilty of 


murder and publicly executed at Imperri on the 
2nd June, 1913. 

There was some doubt as to the identity of the 
third accused. Another person of the same name 
appears to have figured prominently in the conferences 
of the Society. He was therefore found not guilty 
and discharged. 



THIS case was one which created exceptional interest 
locally by reason of the fact that the accused was a 
minister of religion and a man well known in the 
Colony and Protectorate. He was connected with 
the United Brethren in Christ Mission and had been 
a minister of religion since 1878. 

The accused, who was defended by four members 
of the Freetown Bar, was first charged with the 
capital crime of murder, but after some evidence had 
been given the Crown Prosecutor realized that he had 
not sufficient evidence to secure a conviction on that 
charge, and intimated that he proposed to call no 
further evidence, whereupon a formal verdict of 
Not Guilty was recorded. 

The accused was then proceeded against on the fol- 
lowing charges (i) of being a member of the Human 
Leopard Society on or before the 5th November, 
1912, the date of the Human Leopard Amendment 
Ordinance, 1912, and (ii) with having taken part 
in the operations of an unlawful society on the 
17th October, 1909. 

The accused had apparently been well educated, 
and whilst he was in the witness-box it was difficult to 
conceive how a man <jf his stamp could possibly be 



connected with a cannibal society ; on the other 
hand, it was undisputed that he had permitted him- 
self to be elected Mahawa (paramount chief) of one 
of the chiefdoms in the Protectorate, and had acted 
in that capacity from 1899 to 1905, which connotes 
much; and he stated that he only ceased to be 
Mahawa after his trial upon a charge of cannibal 
murder which took place before a judge and jury in 
Bonthe in 1905. 

The case for the prosecution depended chiefly upon 
the evidence of two informers. Upon the depositions 
their testimony was corroborated by the evidence of 
two witnesses, one of whom was a petty trader and 
the other a teacher in another branch of the United 
Brethren in Christ Mission, but, as these witnesses 
when before the Special Commission Court swore 
that their previous statements were false, the case 
for the prosecution was left to depend almost solely 
upon the evidence of the two informers. 

These two informers stated that towards the last 
quarter of 1909 (cutting-rice time) a meeting of the 
Human Leopard Society was called near Yandehun 
for the purpose of arranging for a certain newly 
appointed Mahawuru (sub-chief) to provide a victim 
to celebrate his appointment. At that meeting a 
number of important persons were present, and it 
was settled that the Mahawuru should give a girl to 
whom he stood in loco parentis, and that the murder 
should take place on the evening of the fourth day 
from that. 

On the evening arranged the two informers and 
many others arrived at the appointed place, the 
Mahawuru enticed the girl to the spot, and he and his 

Hi m 




Lavari set upon her and killed her. Her body was 
divided up and one of the informers was despatched 
with a portion of the girl's flesh to the accused and 
another member who had not attended the meeting. 
He handed over this flesh to this other member and 
asked him to give the accused his portion. 

The next morning the informer went to the town 
of Victoria and saw the accused at the French Com- 
pany's Factory, and informed him that he had been 
sent to ask him whether he had received a share of 
the " meat " that was sent for him, to which the 
accused replied that he had received it. The informer 
stated that the accused then said, " All right, I am 
now going. I only came for that purpose/' and that 
the accused then took the road leading in the direction 
of Mobundo (New London), which is situated farther 
down the river and is one of the starting-places 
when going by water to Bonthe. 

If that story was true, there could be no doubt 
that the " meat " was a portion of the body of the 
murdered girl, and an admission by the accused to 
a member of the Human Leopard Society that he 
had received such " meat " would have been con- 
clusive proof that he was a member of that Society. 

Both the informers also stated that they saw one 
of the witnesses, a petty trader, at the French Com- 
pany's Factory on that particular occasion, and also 
the school-teacher referred to. That was prac- 
tically all, apart from proof of the girl's disappear- 
ance at the time in question, that the prosecution 
could prove at the trial. 

Upon the depositions, however, the case was 
much stronger. At the preliminary investigation in 


the District Commissioner's Court the previous Sep- 
tember the petty trader referred to stated that about 
two and a half years before September, 1912, early 
one morning he saw one of the informers and the 
accused coming out of the French Company's Store. 
He further said that he got the school-teacher referred 
to to write a letter to a person at Moyamba, but he 
did not actually connect this letter with the day on 
which he saw the informer and the accused together. 
He admitted that the school-teacher had written a 
letter for him, that he took this letter to a person at 
Moyamba, and that just before he started for Moyamba 
with that letter he went to the French Company's 
Store to get some provisions ; but he denied, when 
before the Special Commission Court, having seen 
either the informer or the accused there. 

The school-teacher in his depositions at the pre- 
liminary investigation in September, 1912, gave 
important corroborative evidence. He there said that 
the accused came to Victoria on the 17th October, 
1909, and stayed the night with him ; that the 
accused went out about 9 p.m. and returned about 
10 p.m. with two persons (who had since been 
executed for leopard murder), and that these two 
stayed with him for about a quarter of an hour ; 
that next morning the accused went to the French 
Company's Factory and came back to the house ; 
that he asked the accused to stay and preach for him, 
but the accused said " No," that he was in haste, as 
the Government, since his previous trial, never allowed 
him to come to Victoria, and the witness fixed the 
date by saying that the petty trader came to him the 
same morning to have the above-mentioned letter 


written. This letter was produced and identified, and 
was dated 18th October, 1909. At this preliminary 
investigation this witness, when cross-examined by 
counsel for the accused, said further, " I am certain 
that the accused slept at Victoria on the night of 
October 17th, 1909." He also said in cross-examina- 
tion that he was certain that accused came there 
only for the purpose of collecting subscriptions for 
the Mission to which he belonged, and that on this 
occasion he got a subscription from at least one other 
person besides himself. But before the Special Com- 
mission Court all this was changed. The keystone 
of the accused's defence was that his collections at 
Victoria were made on or about the 17th December, 
1909, and that he only paid this one visit to Victoria 
during the year 1909, and these two witnesses, when 
before the Special Commission Court, made their 
evidence fit in with this defence. 

The school-teacher witness was married to a niece 
of the accused, and both he and the petty trader 
witness admitted having gone back on their state- 
ments about seeing the accused in Victoria in October, 
1909, after an interview with the son of the accused 
who was also connected with the United Brethren in 
Christ Mission. 1 

The introduction of outside influences to vary the 
evidence of important witnesses for the prosecution 
gave rise to grave suspicion, but the net result so far 
as the actual charges were concerned was that the 
prosecution was left without corroboration of the 
evidence of the accomplices. 

1 These two witnesses were subsequently prosecuted for perjury 
before the Circuit Court and found guilty. 



Had the only issue before the Court been the 
charges recorded, it is possible that counsel for the 
defence would not have called any witnesses, but would 
have claimed a verdict upon the evidence ; but the 
Court drew attention to Section 11 of the Special 
Commission Court Ordinance, 1912, which declared 
that notwithstanding an acquittal, if the Court is of 
opinion that it is expedient for the security, peace, or 
order of the district that the acquitted person should 
be expelled therefrom, the Court shall report to the 
Governor, who may expel such person from the 
Colony and Protectorate accordingly. 

Counsel for the defence therefore decided not to let 
the matter rest there, but to call evidence so as to 
exonerate the accused completely if it were possible 
to do so. 

The accused himself first went into the witness- 
box and proved by letters to persons connected with 
his Mission in Freetown that in September, 1909, he 
had arranged to make a tour of his district early in 
October. He gave evidence to the effect that he 
started on the 20th October, proceeded up certain 
rivers some distance from Victoria, and that he 
remained in those parts preaching and giving magic- 
lantern entertainments, with the object of obtaining 
subscriptions for his mission, until early in December, 
when he came to New London (Mobundo), which he 
reached on the morning of the 7th December, 1909. 

He related how he had gone to the school-teacher's 
house at Victoria and then to the French Company's 
Factory and then to one King, and how he had got 
subscriptions, only spending an hour or two at 
Victoria. He stated that he then walked to the out- 


lying villages and obtained subscriptions from persons 
named Nicoll and Cole, that he then returned to 
New London, where he picked up his boat and started 
home for Bonthe, which he reached early on the 
morning of the 8th December. In corroboration of 
his story he produced the subscription book which 
he kept during the tour, and in which there can be 
little doubt that the names of King, Powell, Nicoll, 
and Cole written by themselves appear in their due 
places after the subscriptions given during the earlier 
period of the tour. 

These subscriptions seemed to be perfectly genuine, 
the entries of the names seemed perfectly genuine, the 
whole book bore every appearance of being quite 
genuine. King and Nicoll, two respectable traders, 
proved their signatures in the book and said that 
they put them there in December 1909. In some 
details the evidence of King was inconsistent with 
that of the accused and his boatman, but this pointed 
to little more than that there had been no collusion. 

Several servants of the accused were also called 
as witnesses for the defence, and a number of dis- 
crepancies were found to exist in the various accounts 
given of the circumstances connected with the trip 
to Victoria a matter not without importance, as one 
at least of these servants would probably have 
accompanied the accused if he visited Victoria in 
October as well as December. 

One thing was quite clear : viz., that the accused 
was at Victoria in or about December, 1909, and that 
he then collected subscriptions. The question there- 
fore naturally arose as to whether his presence in 
December was inconsistent with his presence there on 


the 17th and 18th October. There could be no doubt 
that it was not. It is true that he had produced 
evidence that he was only at Victoria once during 
the year 1909, but this evidence was not of high value. 
There was nothing to prevent the accused having 
been at Victoria on the 17th and 18th October. His 
letters to Freetown showed that he had intended to 
begin his tour early in October, but his start was 
delayed until the 20th. The first Human Leopard 
meeting at Yandehun was, according to the prosecu- 
tion, on the 13th October ; prominent members of 
the Society would have had notice of this meeting 
prior to the 13th October. Assuming that the 
accused had such notice, he would have received it 
just about the time he had originally meant to start, 
and this would account for his start being delayed 
until the 20th of October. And the view that he 
made a surreptitious visit to Victoria for unlawful 
purposes was strongly supported by the fact that the 
witnesses for the Crown who testified to his visit had 
been tampered with. Then the chain of facts worked 
out by the prosecution connecting the witnesses 
and the letter of 18th October with the accused's 
visit, though not sufficient to be of itself corrobora- 
tion, was significant confirmation of the story of the 

The Court in giving judgment stated that, as the 
accused was a man of education and a minister of 
religion connected with a Missionary Society, they 
had been slow to form an opinion adverse to him, but 
that after careful and anxious consideration they 
were unwillingly forced to the opinion that he was so 
connected with the Human Leopard Society that it 


was expedient for the security, peace and order of 
the District that he should be expelled from the 
Colony and Protectorate of Sierra Leone ; and this 
was accordingly done. *** 7 

This man, who was born in America, successfully 
raised his American citizenship on the previous occa- 
sion when he was indicted for cannibal murder. 
The trial of a person residing in the Protectorate for 
an indictable offence ordinarily takes place before 
the Circuit Court Judge and assessors, who take the 
place of a jury, the assessors being usually native 
chiefs who sit with the judge and advise him on 
questions concerning native law and custom. At the 
close of the case the judge sums up to them as he 
would to a jury, and they individually give their 
opinion as to the guilt or otherwise of the person 
being tried. The judge, although he is not bound 
by their opinions, naturally attaches a good deal of 
weight to them, but the final verdict is left entirely 
with him. Non-natives, however, have the right, 
when charged with a capital offence, to be tried by a 
judge and jury in the Colony instead of the Circuit 
Court Judge and assessors, and the plea to the juris- 
diction was successfully raised by counsel when the 
accused was before the Circuit Court, on the ground 
that he was an American subject and therefore a 
non-native so far as the provision regulating the trial 
of natives of the Protectorate was concerned. The 
case was then transferred to Bonthe, where he was 
found Not Guilty by a jury of educated natives. 
After his acquittal he rejoined the United Brethren in 
Christ Mission and went on a lecturing tour through 
America on behalf of the Mission. One of the Euro- 


pean members of the Mission who was present during 
the trial of the case before the Special Commission 
Court stated that he had heard him lecture in the 
United States, and that by his eloquence and inter- 
esting description of Sierra Leone he drew large 
audiences and was successful in collecting a consider- 
able sum of money for Mission purposes. He is also 
known in England, where he had many friends ; on 
several occasions he has been the guest of persons 
in high position, to whom his trial upon a charge of 
cannibal murder must have come as a most un- 
pleasant shock. 



THE first of these cases was one against an important 
person who held high office in the Imperri Chiefdom. 
The charge against him was that in or about the 
month of July, 1912, he had in his possession without 
lawful authority or excuse certain articles, to wit a 
native medicine commonly known as " Borfima," 
and a " kukoi " or whistle, contrary to section 2 of 
Ordinance No. 28 of 1909 (The Human Leopard 
Society Ordinance) as amended by Section 7 of 
Ordinance No. 17 of 1912. There were two other 
counts charging him with (i) the custody and (ii) 
the control of the " Borfima " and " Kukoi " men- 
tioned above. The accused was a man of striking 
personality, and appears to have exercised a great 
influence in the Imperri Chiefdom. 

The facts of the case were simple. In July, 1912, 
it was stated by members of the Society who had 
turned King's evidence that he had been present at 
several meetings of the Human Leopard Society and 
had taken a prominent part in the preliminary arrange- 
ments for securing various victims, and that he had 
at these meetings produced the " mother " Borfima 
of the Imperri Chiefdom. In these circumstances he 
was arrested and his houses at Gbangbama and 
Victoria were watched by Court Messengers. 



Early one morning the senior Court Messenger 
saw one of the accused's wives leave the house at 
Gbangbama with a bundle. He followed her, and 
when she saw that there was no escape she threw 
the bundle down and ran away. This bundle 
held, amongst other things, an iron pot containing 
" medicine/' 

The accused admitted that the " medicine " was 
his, and made a statement as to how it had come into 
his possession. This will be best described in his own 
words : "I am a sick man. My sickness arose over 
a dream. A snake swallowed me up to my waist. 
I screamed and then awakened. In the morning I 
was unable to move. My legs and body up. to the 
place where the snake had swallowed me became 
' dead/ I remained like that for four years. I 
heard that there was a Mori Man at a town called 
Behol, and sent a messenger for him. I employed this 
man to make a medicine for me and I paid him 3 
for it. That is the sebbeh (charm) which was in the 
pot which the Court Messenger took from my wife. 
The Mori Man told me that I would not dream again, 
and that the lassimo (medicine) would ward ofl ill- 
health and bad dreams so long as I always kept it 
with me. Ah ! if he were not dead I would not be 
here " (meaning that had the Mori Man been living 
it would not have been in the power of the white 
man to interfere with him). 

The accused caused some amusement in Court by 
describing how the senior Court Messenger brought 
the sebbeh to Gombo-kabbo (" Fire in the grass/' the 
native name for the Assistant District Commissioner), 
and how he heard him shout out in a triumphant voice, 


which he imitated, " I have brought Daddy Borfima 
come and see ! '' 

He likewise imitated the voices of the two ex- 
members of the Human Leopard Society who were 
witnesses against him. One of these men had a 
deep voice and the other's voice was just the reverse, 
but this did not appear to present any difficulty to 
this extraordinarily good mimic. 

Evidence was given that he bore the mark of the 
Human Leopard Society. His retort was that even 
in England people have marks. He went on to say 
that the people were beginning to say that the white 
man " is bad/' but that it was not altogether the 
white man's fault, as he was being misled by the 
persons who said they had been members of the 
Human Leopard Society and now, to save themselves, 
gave evidence for the prosecution. He gave one to 
understand that words failed him to express his 
contempt for these persons, and that if they had to 
deal with them under native law they would know 
what to do. 

He described how the District Commissioner had 
forced him to throw the Borfima into a fire made 
for that purpose ; and how he had protested against 
this, stating that he had lost good money over its 
destruction. He went on to pay a subtle compliment 
to the Court by saying, " We were thinking in this 
country that there were no judges in England until 
you s daddies ' arrived." 

Although the accused very ably defended himself, 
there was no doubt from the evidence of the wit- 
nesses that the medicine in question was Borfima. 
It was also proved very clearly that he was one of 


the leaders in the Human Leopard Society. Found 
Guilty, and asked if he had anything to say why 
sentence should not be passed on him, he replied : 
" I am the cow with the short tail, God will drive 
the flies away. The Judges, you, represent God. 
You didn't believe when I spoke of those men who 
said they belonged to the Leopard Society. I see 
the result now." 

A sentence of fourteen years' imprisonment with 
hard labour was passed on this man, who, even after 
the passing of the sentence, had a last word of 
protest and pathetic appeal. As he was leaving the 
Court, he burst out, " I am an old man, fourteen 
years is a longer time than I will live : Judges, if 
you must have my life take it at once ; the soldiers 
are there with their guns to shoot " the military 
guard round the Court-house when the Court was 

It may be mentioned in connection with this case 
that the prisoner, without any family influence, had 
gained an ascendancy over the people of the Chiefdom 
unequalled by even the Chief himself. Some years 
ago he was tried for Leopard murder, but was 
acquitted, and from that date he appears to have 
been marked out as a person of distinction. It was 
asserted that his " medicine " was sufficiently strong 
to guard him against all bad trouble that might be 
put upon him, and he was selected as the custodian 
of the chief " medicine " of the Human Leopard 
Society known as the " Mother Borfima." When 
fresh Borfima was made it was necessary that a small 
portion should be taken from the parent Borfima, 
and this formed the foundation for the new Borfima. 


Another interesting native was brought before the 
Court in the person of a Chief from the southern 
portion of the Protectorate near the Liberian frontier, 
charged with a similar offence. The District Com- 
missioner obtained information that this man had 
in his possession the " medicine " belonging to a 
branch of the Society, and Court Messengers were 
detailed to search his house, with the result that a 
large quantity of " medicine " of various sorts was 
discovered and produced before the Court. 

The accused in his defence stated that he had been 
one of the leaders of the " War boys," who operated 
with the British force during the 1898 Rebellion, and 
that the " medicine " produced had been seized by 
the War boys from the rebels and was afterwards 
deposited for safe keeping in his house ; that the War 
boys had never returned to claim these curiosities or 
trophies, and that the bags in which the" medicine " 
had been kept had never been opened up until their 
seizure by the Court Messengers. There was reliable 
evidence that a portion of the " medicine " was Bor- 
fima, and it was apparent that some of the leather 
wrappings round it had recently been repaired. 
From the evidence it was clear that the prisoner had 
made use of the " medicine " for unlawful purposes, 
and he was therefore found Guilty ; but as he had 
been a great warrior and had rendered valuable ser- 
vice to the Government during the 1898 Rebellion, 
a comparatively light sentence was passed on him. 

Another Chief from yet another part of the country 
was indicted for being in possession of Borfima 
without lawful authority. There was also a second 
charge against him of having in his possession a 


Kukoi, i.e. a special kind of whistle used for calling 
together members of the Human Leopard Society. 
Information reached the District Commissioner of the 
Island of Sherbro during the month of August, 1912, 
that the accused had Borfima in his possession. This 
man was known to be of a rather truculent dis- 
position, and it was considered desirable that there 
should be some show of force when his chief town was 
visited for the purpose of effecting his arrest, as other- 
wise some resistance might have been met with by 
the officers detailed for this duty. An armed party 
of the West African Frontier Force accordingly made 
a surprise visit and surrounded his house, and effected 
his arrest without any resistance being offered. 
His house was then searched and a quantity of 
u medicines " found which were produced in Court. 

The accused admitted that the " medicines " be- 
longed to him, but stated that they had been left to 
him by his predecessor, and that during his absence 
on one occasion while he was in Freetown they had 
been put in his dwelling-house, and that he, fearing 
these " medicines/' had kept them locked up in a 
leather bag. He further denied that any of the 
" medicines " was Borfima. The witnesses for the 
prosecution all stated that a portion of the " medi- 
cines " was Borfima, and it was apparent that the 
wrappings of this particular " medicine " had been 
recently repaired. 

The Court in delivering judgment pointed out that 
the accused, by keeping this medicine in his posses- 
sion, gave himself and others the opportunity of 
using it, and that there was satisfactory evidence to 
show that it was not kept for curiosity or for 


any legitimate object, but for an unlawful purpose; 
however, as there was no evidence to show that the 
Borfima had been taken to the scenes of any of the 
recent murders, and there was no reason to believe it 
had, the Court took this into consideration in deciding 
on the punishment to be imposed on the accused. 
The sentence imposed was a term of two years' im- 
prisonment with hard labour. The evidence regarding 
the Kukoi (whistle) was not considered reliable, and 
on this charge he was found not guilty. 

A number of other cases besides those mentioned 
occupied the time of the Court for some weeks, and 
among them were a number of cases in which prisoners 
were charged with being members of the Human 
Leopard Society. As there were so many persons 
under arrest on this charge, the Crown decided to 
proceed only against the important men concerned. 
Most of these men were defended by counsel, who 
examined the witnesses for the prosecution at great 
length, but in many cases they were unable to shake 
their evidence. A number of these prisoners were 
proved to have been present at various meetings of 
the Society at which the details of several murders 
had been arranged, and the Court in giving judgment 
stated that on the facts proved such persons were 
really accessories before the fact to these murders and 
might on the evidence have been found guilty on the 
capital charge had they been prosecuted for it, and 
in those cases the Court felt compelled to pass the 
maximum sentence of fourteen years' imprisonment 
with hard labour. 

The only other case of interest was one in which a 
man of some importance in his chiefdom was charged 


with having in his possession without lawful authority 
a certain article, to wit an iron needle of a peculiar 
shape used for marking on initiation members of the 
Human Leopard Society. 

The possession of this article is made an offence 
under the Human Leopard Society Ordinance, pun- 
ishable with imprisonment up to fourteen years. 
The case resolved itself chiefly into a discussion on a 
point of law, the arguments in the case all turning on 
the word " branding." 

The case for the prosecution was that iron needles, 
made specially for the purpose, were used in the 
following way : the needle was inserted under the 
skin, the skin and flesh were raised, a razor then cut 
under or over the needle in such a way as to make a 
small wound from which blood flowed. A prepara- 
tion called Nikori was then placed on the wound, and 
the result was a peculiar scar or mark. It was con- 
tended that an iron needle used for that purpose could 
be held to be a needle used for branding persons. 

For the defence it was argued by counsel that 
r< branding " a person meant applying a hot iron to 
his person, and that marking a person was not the 
same as branding him ; that the word " branding " by 
itself contained the idea of burning, that the Statute 
was a highly penal Statute giving exceptionally large 
powers to the Executive and imposing a heavy pun- 
ishment for breach of its provisions. It was further 
argued that the needle was not even for " marking " 
members that it was the razor which actually made 
the mark ; that although the needle might be used 
in the process of marking it was no more used for 
" marking " the person than the hand which held it. 


The Court held that the needle could not be held to 
be used for " branding," and found the accused not 
guilty, and he was discharged. 

The Crown Prosecutor entered a nolle prosequi in 
the case of a number of other prisoners who had been 
committed for trial but against whom he did not 
consider that he had sufficient evidence to justify 
him in proceeding further, and these men, so far as 
the charges on which they were committed for trial 
were concerned, were discharged from custody. 

This completed the work of the Special Commission 
Court, which, after sitting continuously from the 
18th December, 1912, concluded its sittings on the 
15th May, 1913. 



ALTHOUGH the work of the Special Commission Court 
was completed on the 15th May, 1913, there were at 
that date a large number of persons still in custody 
who had not been committed for trial, and who there- 
fore did not come within the purview of that Court. 
It was decided that the District Commissioner should 
hold an Enquiry under the Protectorate Ordinance 
and report whether on the evidence given against any 
of these men he considered such persons to be a danger 
to the peace of the community. 

The first enquiry made was in regard to charges 
preferred against a number of men of the Imperri and 
Jung Chiefdoms of being connected with the Human 
Leopard Society. Evidence was given by informers 
that all these men were members of or connected 
with the Human Leopard Society, and mention was 
made of a number of murders by the Society pre- 
viously unknown to the Authorities. Apart from the 
evidence of the informers there was ample evidence 
to show that a number of these men had actually 
assisted members of the Society, and the Governor- 
in-Council approved of the deportation of twelve 
sub-chiefs and fourteen of the principal Headmen of 



the Imperri and Jong Chiefdoms from the Northern 
Sherbro District. 

The next enquiry was in regard to charges made 
against thirty-six sub-Chiefs and principal men of the 
Gallinas Chief dom. Three informers gave evidence 
that they had been members of the Human Leopard 
Society and had, during their membership, been 
present at a number of murders, each of these men 
admitting having given a victim himself and giving 
details regarding the sacrifices. They said that all 
the persons who were the subject of the enquiry were 
members of the Society, and specified the various 
murders at which each of them had been present ; 
they also gave further evidence regarding the leopard 
mark and exhibited the marks which they had received 
on initiation. 

One of the witnesses was a boy aged eighteen years. 
His story was that one evening in the previous 
year, as he was returning home from a visit to a 
neighbouring village, night overtook him, and by 
mistake he took a path leading to the Poro bush at 
Powolu, where he fell into a number of people. He 
spoke to them, but no one answered. He then got 
afraid and commenced to run away, when he was 
seized by some one who was assisted by several others 
to make him a fast prisoner. He was then dragged 
inside the Poro bush and a discussion took place, 
which he was able to hear, as to whether they should 
kill him or not. The majority of the members were 
for immediately killing him in accordance with the 
rules of the Society, but it was pointed out that 
another victim had already been secured, and further 
that as their prisoner was the son of a man of some 


importance his absence might give rise to some 
awkward inquiries. It was therefore agreed to give 
him the alternative of becoming a member of the 
Society or of being immediately killed. The witness 
stated that he agreed to join the Society. Borfima 
was then brought, and the " big man " of the Society 
explained to him that the Borfima was the " mother " 
of the Society and should be treated with the greatest 
veneration ; that they were its children and therefore 
brothers to each other, and in order to join him to 
their brotherhood some of his blood had to be given 
to the Borfima to drink ; that when the blood was 
taken from him he should bear the pain inflicted 
bravely and should not utter a sound, as otherwise it 
would displease their " medicine " and might result 
in his being punished in some unexpected way. The 
" Master " then marked him on the left buttock by 
cutting a slice of flesh away and rubbing the blood 
that exuded from the wound on to the Borfima. He 
was then made to swear an oath on the Borfima not 
to reveal the secrets of the Society, and was forced 
to be present and witness the killing of a girl who had 
been brought to the Poro bush, and was made to 
eat some of the flesh of this victim. 

Although there was no direct evidence apart 
from that of accomplices, it was clear from the tes- 
timony of independent witnesses that all these 
persons were so connected with the Society as to 
make it desirable to have them removed from the 
Grallinas District, where it was stated they exer- 
cised great influence over the people. All these 
men, with the exception of eight sub-Chiefs who 
absconded to Liberia, have since been deported to 



the Karina and Koinadugu Districts of the Protec- 

Some light was thrown on the means used to 
terrorize the ordinary members of the community 
into keeping silence regarding anything they may 
have heard concerning the crimes committed by the 
Society. When it was discovered that the Govern- 
ment officers were making enquiries regarding the 
Society an attempt was made " to swear " the whole 
country that is, to put all the people under an 
oath of secrecy. In one Chiefdom this was done 
by swearing every one who was likely to be able to 
give any information on a " medicine " called Tillah. 
If a person breaks an oath on this " medicine," even 
though he does so unwittingly, the natives believe 
that the medicine will catch him and will infect him 
with a disease which first attacks his lips and nose, 
which it eats away, and which eventually kills him. 
There are a few lepers in this Chiefdom, and they are 
pointed out as people who have broken, though per- 
haps unintentionally, an oath taken on the Tillah. 

Another exhibit which was produced in one of the 
cases before the Special Commission Court was a 
stone image which is looked upon by the Gallinas 
people in the light of a Deity. It is known by 
the name of Toniahun. The meaning of the word 
Toniahun is " turn back to truth/' The figure has 
been carved out from soapstone by some ancient 
sculptor, and its features are more of the Arab than 
the Negro type. No woman will look at this image 
for fear of becoming sterile, and they cover their 
eyes if they approach it. This figure, notwithstand- 
ing its name, was apparently also used for swearing 


persons on i.e. to force them to state that they 
knew nothing of the Human Leopard Society and 
so great is the fear of the Society and the various 
" medicines " employed by it that even the parents 
of children who have been seized as victims cannot 
be induced to assist the Authorities in bringing the 
guilty parties to justice. Prior to July, 1912, no 
case of Human Leopardism or cannibalism had ever 
been reported to have taken place in the Gallinas 
Country, and the Authorities had no reason to suspect 
that any had taken place. It was not until after a 
number of arrests had been made in other Districts 
that it was brought to light that a nourishing branch 
of the Human Leopard Society had existed in that 
District for many years, and details of about a score 
of murders were given by members of the Society who 
had turned informers. Although the existence of the 
Society must have been known to hundreds of people, 
many of whom went about in terror of it, the fear of 
the " medicines " of the Society acted as a sufficient 
deterrent to keep the matter from the ears of all 
Europeans in that part of the country, thus demon- 
strating the fear that an ordinary native has of doing 
or saying any thing which might bring him into collision 
with the members of the Human Leopard Society, 
who might, with the aid of their " medicines/' punish 
him in some fearful and unexpected way. 

The fact that the majority of the persons who were 
convicted or deported under the Special Commission 
Court Ordinance were important members of the 
Human Leopard Society must have the salutary 
effect of breaking up for the time being this criminal 
organization ; nevertheless, unless vigorous measures 



are pursued and unless that part of the country is 
more effectively policed, it is more than probable 
that the killing of an occasional victim in order to 
renew their fetishes will be continued. It must be 
a gradual evolution, which will be brought about by 
the natives of those parts coming more in touch with 
European influence and gradually losing faith in 
the potency of their " medicines." 

While the Special Commission Court was sitting 
three murders occurred in the Koinadugu District, 
which hitherto as far as official knowledge goes was 
entirely free from cannibalism of any kind. Accord- 
ing to the evidence given by a number of witnesses, 
the people of the Symira Chief dom had a very vexed 
question to settle in the selection from a number of 
aspirants of a Paramount Chief as a successor to their 
late Chief who died the previous year, and who left 
no near male relative who could of right claim to 
succeed to the Chiefdom ; and it was suggested by 
these witnesses that the victims were provided as 
propitiatory offerings by candidates for the Chief- 

A small girl aged about seven years was killed at 
Nerekora toward the end of December, 1912 ; two 
days later another small girl about twelve years of 
age was killed at Bafai ; and early the following 
month another girl aged about twelve to thirteen 
years was killed at Nerekora. All these deaths were 
at first attributed to attacks by bush leopards, but the 
evidence given by various witnesses was to the effect 
that these three girls were murdered by members of 
the Human Leopard Society. 

Another secret society known as the Human 


Baboon Society, which exists in one of the northern 
Districts of the Protectorate, first^ came to notice 
about five years ago, when a number of persons were 
charged before the Circuit Court with the murder of 
a small child. During the investigation connected 
with the death of the child, it came to light that a 
number of persons in the vicinity of Port Lokkoh in 
the Karina District had banded themselves together 
and had formed a society which has since become 
known as the Human Baboon Society. In the case 
mentioned no evidence could be obtained to cor- 
roborate the statements of the informers, and the 
accused were found not guilty and discharged from 

During the month of May, 1913, a small girl was 
killed near the village of Bokamp, and, according to 
statements made by persons who turned informers, 
she was murdered by members of the Human Baboon 
Society. Their statements were to the following 
effect : That this Society was formed about six 
years ago, and consists of twenty-one members made 
up of eleven men and ten women ; that seven victims, 
all young children, had been provided at various 
times for the Society ; that at their meetings one of 
the members of the Society dresses himself in a Baboon 
skin and attacks the victim with his teeth ; that the 
spirit of all members of the Society becomes centred 
in the person who is for the time being wearing the 
Baboon skin, which, when not in use, is kept in a small 
forest, where it is guarded by an evil spirit, and that 
the " Baboon " bites pieces out of the victim which 
the other members of the Society devour. 

The only explanation that the informers could or 


would give as to the objects of the Society was that 
the founder of it had quarrelled with his tribal ruler, 
who he alleged liberated one of the founders' slaves 
and placed him in authority over him ; that he, the 
owner of the slave, became so incensed that he 
turned himself into a " witch " and induced others 
to join him in doing " evil things/' 

Objects and reasons other than those given by the 
informers probably exist, but it is doubtful whether 
they will ever be discovered. 

The information in the hands of the Authorities, 
however, appears to be sufficient to allow of effective 
measures being taken to put an end to the existence 
of this Society. 



IN acknowledging the congratulations of the people 
of Sierra Leone on the occasion of his coronation, 
King George V referred to the Colony as " my ancient 
and loyal Sierra Leone." There is no question about 
the Colony being an ancient one and one of the 
earliest though perhaps not one of the brightest 
jewels of His Majesty's now mighty Colonial Empire. 

The harbour of Sierra Leone was discovered by the 
Portuguese towards the end of the fourteenth century, 
and was named by its discoverers Sierra Leone from 
supposing the mountains to abound in lions, though 
it has also been asserted that the name was derived 
from the noise of the surf on the shores, which 
resembles the roar of a lion. 

At the present day there are no lions to be found 
along the coast of tropical West Africa, but it is not 
improbable that they were numerous in the days of 
the early Portuguese explorers and roared a challenge 
to their ships when they put in to land. 

The following lines by T. B. Rhodes in his " Bom- 
bastes Furioso," apropos of Col. Titus' speech in 
the House of Commons on the Exclusion Bill on 
the 7th January, 1681, shows that it was generally 



accepted as a fact that lions abounded along the 
Coast of West Africa, which was the only part of 
Tropical Africa known to Europeans in those days : 

" So have I heard on Afric's burning shore 
A hungry lion give a grievous roar : 
The grievous roar echoed along the shore. 
So have I heard on Afric's burning shore 
Another lion give a grievous roar, 
And the first lion thought the last a bore." 

The coast-line and the rivers of Sierra Leone were 
explored by Pedro de Cintra, a distinguished Portu- 
guese navigator, in the year 1462, and this consti- 
tuted one of the last of the Portuguese discoveries 
carried on under the direct influence and authority 
of Don Henry, the founder and father of modern 
maritime discovery, who died the following year. 

The record of the voyage so far as it affects Sierra 
Leone is described as follows : 

" On quitting St. Jago we steered southerly by 
Rio Grande, which is on the north of Ethiopia, beyond 
which we came to the high mountain of Sierra Leone, 
the summit of which is continually enveloped in 
mist and out of which thunder and lightning almost 
perpetually flashes and is heard at sea from the dis- 
tance of fifteen to twenty leagues/' 

In 1481 the King of Portugal sent Susu, his am- 
bassador, to Edward IV of England, claiming title 
under the Bull of the Pope, and requested Edward 
to forbid his subjects to navigate along the coast of 

England first began to take an active interest in 
this part of Africa about the middle of the sixteenth 
century. In 1551, in the reign of Edward VI, some 


London merchants sent an English ship to trade for 
gold, ivory, and Guinea pepper; and about three 
years later Captain John Lok brought back a valuable 
cargo consisting of gold, ivory, and Guinea pepper 
from what is now the Gold Coast Colony. 

Sir John Hawkins landed at Sierra Leone on the 
8th May, 1562, and it is recorded of him that he was 
the first Englishman who gave public countenance 
to the Slave Trade, which the Portuguese had been 
carrying on for some years. He brought three ships 
and took cargoes of slaves from Sierra Leone and 
other parts of West Africa and sold them to the 
Spanish settlements in America. After Captain 
Hawkins returned to England from his first voyage, 
Queen Elizabeth sent for him and expressed her 
concern lest any of the African negroes should be 
carried off without their free consent, which she de- 
clared would be detestable and would call down the 
vengeance of heaven upon the undertakers ; but it is 
recorded that in the thirtieth year of her reign she 
was induced by the subtle persuasion of some of her 
subjects to grant patents for carrying on the slave 
trade from the north part of the Senegal to one hun- 
dred leagues beyond Sierra Leone. 

Sir John Hawkins made three voyages from the 
coast of Africa to the West Indies and Spanish 
America with cargoes of slaves ; and the good Queen 
Bess, having overcome her scruples regarding this 
lucrative trade, fitted out as a private enterprise 
two ships and sent them under the command of 
Hawkins, who lost the whole of her money, the 
ships being taken by the Spaniards. Sir Francis 
Drake, who at that time had command of the barque 


of fifty tons called the Jiidith, escaped and returned 
to England. 

It is not surprising that the name of the great 
Elizabethan hero, Hawkins, is not held in reverence 
by the inhabitants of Freetown, who assert that, far 
from being a national hero, if he had lived in the 
present day he would have been hanged for some of 
the acts committed on their forbears. In this con- 
nection a story is told of a prominent Sierra Leonean 
who, on hearing the words " Britons never shall be 
slaves " sung, remarked with some feeling, to a near 
neighbour, " But they have been Julius Csesar took 
them as slaves to Rome/' 

Captain Keeling, who visited Sierra Leone in 
August, 1607, wrote the following account of his visit : 

" About 7 p.m. we anchored in twenty fathoms 
on hard sand, the south part of Ilha Verde bearing 
E. and the Cape of Sierra Leone, which is a low point, 
N. by E. about eight leagues distant. But the land 
over the Cape is very high, and may be seen fifteen 
leagues off in clear weather. About six next morn- 
ing we made sail for the road, and had not less than 
16, 15, 10 and 9 fathoms till we ranged north and 
south with the rocks which lie about one and a half 
miles west of Cape Sierra Leone ; and when one mile 
from the nearest shore we had seven fathoms good 
shoaling between us and the rock. Immediately 
when past the rock we had 20 fathoms, and shoaled 
to 18, 16, 12 and 10 fathoms all the way into the 
roads, keeping very near the South shore ; for a sand 
lies about two miles from the North shore or a league 
from the South shore, and upon it the sea continually 
breaks. We came to anchor in ten fathoms on good 



ground, the point of Sierra Leone bearing W. by N., 
the north point of the bay N. by. W., and the sand 
or breaker N.N.E. In the afternoon we were waved 
by some men on shore, to whom I sent my boat, which, 
leaving two hostages, brought off four negroes, who 
promised us refreshments. My skiff sounded between 
our anchorage and the breakers, finding fair shoaling, 
with two fathoms water within two boats-length 
of the beach or sand on which the sea breaks. 
All the previous observations of the variation, since 
our coming from 2 N. latitude to this place proved 
erroneous ; for to each distance, having reference 
to any Meridian eastwards, there must be added 30 
leagues, and from such as referred to western Meridians 
30 leagues must be subtracted ; for it appeared, 
by our falling in with the land, that the ship was 
so much more westerly than we supposed ; myself, 
notwithstanding this error, being as much if not more 
westerly than any of the Mariners. Yet every man 
must trust to his own experience ; for instruments 
may deceive, even in the hands of the most skilful. 
The 7th August some negroes of a superior appear- 
ance came aboard in my boat, for whom, as for all 
others, we had to leave one of our men in hostage 
for every two of them. These made signs that I 
should send some men up the country, and they 
would stay as hostages ; I accordingly sent Edward 
Bradbury and my servant William Cotterell with a 
present to the Captain or chief, consisting of one 
coarse shirt, three feet of bar iron, a few glass beads, 
and two knives. They returned towards night, and 
brought me from the Captain one small gold earring 
worth some eight or nine shillings ; and as it was late 


the hostages remained all night on board without any 
one in pawn for them. I sent my boat, and brought 
off five tons of water, very good and easily come by. 
" I went ashore on the llth, when the people came 
to us, accompanied by their women, yet feared we 
might carry them away. We got plenty of lemons 
very cheap, as they gave us 200 for a penny knife. 
The 13th I bought an elephant tooth of 63 pounds 
weight for five yards of blue calico and seven or 
eight pounds of bar iron. The 15th in an hour and 
a half we took Six thousand excellent small fish called 
Cavallos. That afternoon we bought two or three 
thousand lemons at the Village. It rained so much 
at this place that we esteemed it a dry day when we 
had three hours of fair weather. The 16th I allowed 
our weekly workers to go on shore with me for 
recreation. In our walk we saw not above two or 
three acres sown with rice the surface of the ground 
being mostly a hard rock. The 16th and 17th were 
quite fair ; and on the latter I caused a quantity of 
lemon-water to be made. The 20th John Rogers 
returned and brought me a present of a piece of gold 
in form of a half- moon, worth five or six shillings. 
He reported the people to be peaceable, the chief 
without state, the landing to be two leagues up the 
river, and the chief's village eight miles from the 
landing. The 22nd I went on shore and made six or 
seven barricos full of lemon juice ; having opened 
a firkin of knives belonging to the Company where- 
with to buy limes. The afternoon of the 7th Sep- 
tember we went all on shore to try if we could shoot 
an elephant, when we shot seven or eight bullets into 
him, and made him bleed exceedingly, as appeared 


by his track ; but night coming on we had to go on 
board without effecting our purpose. The best road 
and watering place is the fourth bay to the east of 
Cape Sierra Leone. The tide where we rode flowed 
W.S.W., and the highest water upon a spring tide 
was at the least 12 feet. I made no observation of 
the sun in this road, neither aboard nor on shore, 
though I proposed to have so done several times ; but 
the Master made the road where we lay 8 36 N., Cape 
Sierra Leone being west, a league or four miles off. 
He also made the variation 1 50 eastwards ; but my 
instrument was out of order, and I had not time 
to put it in repair. We weighed from Sierra Leone 
the 14th September, with the wind all easterly ; but 
it soon fell calm, and we drove to the north, but drifted 
again S.W. by S., with the ebb, and when the flood 
again made, we anchored in 15J fathoms, Cape Sierra 
Leone bearing N.E. by E. about seven leagues off. 
We had not less than ten fathoms all this day. The 
16th we found the current setting N. by W." 

William Finch, a British merchant who also visited 
Sierra Leone during the year 1607, wrote the follow- 
ing lengthy and interesting account of his visit : 

" The island which we fell in with lyeth some ten 
leagues south from the bay of Sierra Leone in lat. 
8 N., has no inhabitants, neither did I learn its name. 
It has some plantains, and, by report, good watering 
and wooding for ships ; but about a league from 
the shore there is a dangerous ledge of rock, scarcely 
visible at high water. The bay of Sierra Leone is 
about three leagues broad, being high land on the 
South side, full of trees to the very edge of the water, 
and having several coves in which we caught plenty 


and variety of fish. On the farther side of the fourth 
cove is the watering place, having excellent water 
continually running. Here on the rocks we found the 
names of various Englishmen who had been there. 
Among those was Sir Francis Drake, who had been 
there twenty-seven years before ; Thomas Candish, 
Captain Lister, and others. About the middle of the 
bay, right out from the third cove, lieth a sand, near 
about which there are not above two or three fathoms, 
but in most other parts eight or ten close in shore. 
The tide flows E.S.E., the highest water being six 
or eight feet, and the tide is very strong. The 
latitude is 8 30 N. 

" The King of Sierra Leone resides at the bottom 
of the bay, and is called by the Moors Borea, or 
Captain Caran, having other petty kings or chiefs 
under him ; one whom he called Captain Pinto, 
a wretched old man, dwells at a town within 
the second cove ; and on the other side of the bay 
is Captain Bolone. The Dominions of Borea stretch 
forty leagues inland, from which he receives a 
tribute in cotton cloth, elephants' teeth and gold; 
and has the power of selling his people as slaves, some 
of whom he offered to us. Some of them have been 
converted to Christianity by the Portuguese priests 
and Jesuits, who have a chapel, in which is a table 
inscribed with the days that are to be observed as 
holy. The King and a few of his principal attendants 
are decently clothed in jackets and breeches ; but 
the common people have only a slight cotton-cloth 
round their waists, while the women have a kind 
of short petticoat or apron down to their knees ; all 
the rest of their bodies, both men and women, being 


quite naked ; the young people of both sexes having 
no dress whatever. All the people, both men and 
women, have all parts of their bodies very curiously 
and ingeniously traced and pintred (tattooed), and 
have their teeth filed very sharp. They pull off all 
the hair from their eyelids. The men have their 
beards short, black, and cropped, and the hair on 
their heads strangely cut into crisped paths or cross 
alleys ; while others wear theirs in strange jagged 
tufts, or other foolish forms ; the women's heads 
being all close shaved. 

"Their town contains not more than thirty or 
forty houses, all irregularly clustered together, 
all thatched with reeds ; yet each has a kind 
of yard inclosed with mud walls like our hovels 
or hog-styes in England. Instead of a locked and 
bolted door, the entrance is only closed by a mat, 
having nothing to be stolen ; and for bedsteads they 
have only a few billets covered by a mat ; yet some 
have hangings of mats, especially about their beds. 
Their furniture consists of two or three earthen pots 
to hold water, and to boil such provisions as they can 
get ; a gourd or two for palm wine ; half a gourd to 
serve as a drinking cup ; a few earthen dishes for 
their loblolly or pottage ; and a basket or two for 
the Maria to gather cockles ; and a knapsack for the 
man, made of bark to carry his provisions, with his 
pipe and tobacco. When a negro man goes from 
home he has always his knapsack on his back, in 
which he has his provisions and tobacco, his pipe 
being seldom from his mouth ; besides which he has 
always his little sword by his side, made by them- 
selves of such iron as they get from the Europeans, 




his bow also, and quiver full of poisoned arrows, 
pointed with iron like a snake's tongue, or else a case of 
javelins or darts having iron heads of good breadth 
and made sharp, sometimes both. The men of this 
country are large and well-made, strong and coura- 
geous, and civilized manners for heathens ; as they 
keep most faithfully to their wives, of whom they are 
not a little jealous. I could not learn their religion, 
for though they have some idols, they seem to know 
that there is a God in heaven, as, when we asked 
them about their wooden puppets, they used to lift 
up their hands to heaven. All their children are 
circumcised, but I could not learn the reason why. 
They are very just and true in their dealings, and 
theft is punished with instant death. When any 
one dies, a small thatched roof is erected over his 
bier, under which are set earthen pots kept always 
full of water, and some earthen plates with different 
kinds of food, a few bones being stuck up around the 
body. To the South of this bay, some thirty or forty 
leagues into the interior country, there are very fierce 
people, who are cannibals, and sometimes infest the 
natives of Sierra Leone. 

" The inhabitants of Sierra Leone feed on rice, of 
which they only cultivate what is indispensably need- 
ful for their subsistence, in small patches near their 
dwellings, which they clear by burning the woods. 
They likewise sow another very small grain, called 
pene, of which they make bread, not much unlike 
winter savory. They rear a few poultry about their 
houses, using no other animals for food, except when 
they sometimes get a fawn of the wild deer, a few of 
which are found in the mountains, or some wild fowl. 


They feed also on cockles and oysters, of which there 
are vast quantities on the rocks and trees by the 
seaside, but these have rather an insipid taste ; and 
they catch plenty of excellent fish, by means of weirs 
and other devices. They also feed on herbs and 
roots, cultivating about their dwellings many plan- 
tains, gourds, pumpkins, potatoes, and Guinea pepper. 

"Tobacco likewise is planted by every one, and 
seems to constitute half their food. The bowl of their 
tobacco pipe is very large, and made of clay well 
burnt, into the lower end of which they thrust a small 
hollow cane eighteen inches long, through which they 
suck the smoke, both men and women swallowing 
most of it. Every man carries a small bag called a 
tufno in his knapsack, in which is his pipe and 
tobacco, and the women have their pipes in their 
hands. They prepare their tobacco for smoking 
by straining out its juice while quite green, and they 
informed us by signs that it would otherwise make 
them drunk. They afterwards shred it very small 
and dry on an earthen dish over the embers. On an 
island in the bay we saw about half a dozen goats 
and nowhere else in this country. 

"They have innumerable kinds of fruits growing 
wild in the woods, in which are whole groves of 
lemon trees, especially near the town and watering 
place, and some few orange trees. Their drink is 
mostly water ; yet the men use great quantities 
of palmito wine, which they call moy, giving little 
or none to the women. It is strange to see their 
manner of climbing the palmito trees; which are 
of great size and height, having neither boughs 
nor branches except near the top. Surrounding the 



tree and his own body by means of a withe 
or band of twisted twigs, on which he leans 
his back, and jerking up his withe before him, he 
foots it up with wonderful speed and certainty, and 
comes down again in the same manner, bringing his 
gourd full of liquor on his arm. Among their fruits 
are many kinds of plums : one like a wheaten 
plum is wholesome and savoury ; likewise a black 
one, as large as a horse plum, which is much esteemed 
and has an aromatic flavour. A kind called man- 
samillius, resembling a wheaten plum, is very dan- 
gerous, as is likewise the sap of the boughs which is 
perilous for the sight if it should chance to get into 
the eyes. Among their fruits is one called benin- 
ganion, about the size of a lemon with a reddish rind 
and very wholesome ; also another called bequill, 
as large as an apple, with a rough knotty skin which 
is pared off, when the pulp below eats like a straw- 
berry, which likewise it resembles in colour and grain, 
and of which we eat much. There are abundance of 
wild grapes in the woods ; but having a woody and 
bitterish taste. The nuts of the palmito are eaten 
roasted. They use but little pepper and grains. 
There is a singular fruit growing six or eight together 
in a bunch, each as long and thick as one's finger, the 
skin being of a brownish yellow colour and somewhat 
downy, and within the rind is a pulp of a pleasant 
taste ; but I know not if it be wholesome. 

" I observed in the woods certain trees like beeches, 
bearing fruit resembling beans, of which I noticed 
three kinds. One of these was a great tall tree, 
bearing pods like those of beans, in each of which was 
four or five squarish beans, resembling tamarind 


seeds, having hard shells, within which is a virulent 
poison, employed by the negroes to envenom their 
arrows. This they call Ogon. The second is smaller, 
having a crooked pod with a thick rind ; six or seven 
inches long, and half that breadth, containing each 
five large beans an inch long. The third, called quenda, 
has short leaves like the former, and much bigger 
fruit, growing on a strong thick woody stock, indented 
on the sides, nine inches long and five broad, within 
which are five long beans, which are also said to be 

" I likewise saw trees resembling willows, bearing 
fruit like pease pods. There is a fruit called Gola, 
which grows in the interior. This fruit, which is 
enclosed in a shell, is hard, reddish, bitter, and about 
the size of a walnut, with many angles and corners. 
The negroes are much given to chew this fruit along 
with the bark of a certain tree. After one person 
has chewed it a while, he gives it to his neighbour, 
and so from one to another, chewing long before they 
cast it away, but swallowing none of its substance. 
They attribute great virtues to this for the teeth and 
gums; and indeed the negroes are usually aswell toothed 
as horses. This fruit passes also among themf or money. 

"Higher within the land they cultivate cotton, 
which they call innuma, and of which they spin 
very good yarn with spindles, and afterwards very 
ingeniously weave into cloths, three quarters of a 
yard broad, to make their girdles or clouts formerly 
mentioned ; and when sewed together it is made into 
jackets and breeches for their great men. By means 
of a wood called cambe they dye their purses and 
mats of a red colour; 


"The tree on which the plantains grow is of a 
considerable height, its body being about the 
thickness of a man's thigh. It seems to be an 
annual, and, in my opinion, ought rather to be 
reckoned among reeds than trees ; for the stem is 
not of a woody substance, but compacted of many 
leaves wrapped close upon each other, adorned with 
leaves from the very ground instead of boughs, which 
are mostly two yards long and a yard broad, having 
a large rib in the middle. The fruit is a bunch of ten 
or twelve plantains, each a span long and as thick 
as a man's wrist, somewhat crooked or bending in- 
wards. These grow on a leafy stalk on the middle 
of the plant, being at first green, but grow yellow 
and tender as they ripen. When the rind is stripped 
off, the inner pulp is also yellowish and pleasant to 
the taste. Beneath the fruit hangs down, from the 
same stalk, a leafy sharp-pointed tuft, which seems to 
have been the flower. This fruit they call banana, 
which they have in reasonable abundance. They 
are ripe in September and October. We carried 
some with us green to sea which were six weeks in 

4 'Guinea pepper grows wild in the woods on 
a small plant like privet, having small slender 
leaves, the fruit being like our barberry in form and 
colour. It is green at first, turning red as it ripens. 
It does not grow in bunches like our barberry, but 
here and there two or three together about the stalk. 
They call it bangue. 

"The pene of which their bread is made grows 
on a small tender herb resembling grass, the stalk 
being all full of small seeds, not inclosed in any 


husk. I think it is the same which the Turks call 
cuscus, and the Portuguese Yfunde. 

" The palmito tree is high and straight, the stalk 
being knotty and the wood of a soft substance, 
having no boughs except at the top and these 
also seem rather reeds than boughs, being all 
pith within inclosed by a hard rind. The leaf is 
long and slender, like that of a sword-lily or flag. 
The boughs stand out from the top of the tree 
on all sides, rather more than a yard long, beset 
on both sides with strong sharp prickles, like the 
saw teeth but longer. It bears a fruit like a small 
cocoa-nut, the size of chestnut inclosed in a hard 
shell, streaked with threads on the outside, and 
containing a kernel of a hard horny substance quite 
tasteless, yet they are eaten roasted. The tree is 
called tobell and the fruit bell. For procuring the 
palmito wine they cut off one of the branches within 
a span of the head, to which they fasten a gourd shell 
by the mouth, which in twenty-four hours is filled 
by a clear whitish sap, of a good and strong relish, 
with which the natives get drunk. 

"The oysters formerly mentioned grow on trees 
resembling willows in form, but having broader 
leaves, which are thick like leather, and having 
small knobs like those of the cypress. From these 
trees hang down many branches into the water, 
each about the thickness of a walking-stick, smooth, 
limber, and within, which are overflowed by every 
tide and hang as thick as they can stick of oysters, 
being the only fruit of this tree. 

" They have many kinds of ordinary fish, and some 
of which seemed to us extraordinary, as mullets, 


rays, thorn-backs, old-wives with prominent brows, 
fishes like pikes, gar-fish, cavallios, like makerel, 
sword-fishes having snouts a yard long toothed on 
each side like a saw-shark's, dog-fish sharkers, resem- 
bling sharks but having a broad flat snout like a 
shovel, shoemakers, having pendants at each side of 
their mouths like barbels, and which grunt like hogs, 
with many others. We once caught in an hour 6,000 
fishes like bleaks. Of birds there are pelicans as large 
as swans, of a white colour, with long and large bills ; 
herons, curlews, boobies, ox-eyes, and various other 
kinds of water-fowl. On land great numbers of grey 
parrots, and abundance of pintados or Guinea fowls, 
which are very hurtful to their rice crops. There are 
many other kinds of strange. birds in the woods, of 
which I knew not the names ; and I saw among the 
Negroes many porcupine quills. There are also great 
number of monkeys leaping about the trees, and on 
the mountains there are lions, tigers and ounces. 
There are but few elephants, of which we only saw 
three ; but they abound further inland. The negroes 
told us of a strange beast, which our interpreter 
called a carbuncle, which is said to be often seen, 
but only in the night. This animal is said to carry a 
stone in the forehead, wonderfully luminous, giving 
him light by which to feed in the night, and on hearing 
the slightest noise he presently conceals it with a 
skin or film naturally provided for the purpose. The 
commodities here are few, more being got farther 
to the eastwards. At certain times of the year the 
Portuguese got gold and elephants' teeth in exchange 
for rice, salt, beads, bells, garlick, French bottles, 
edge-tooles, iron barrs, and sundry specious trifles, 


but for your toyes they will not give gold in this 
place but victuals." 

In 1615 Sierra Leone was visited by the Unity, a 
ship of 360 tons, of which William Cornelison Schonten 
was the master. This visit is described as follows : 

" On the 1st August we came in sight of the high 
land of Sierra Leone, on the 21st of that month, 
as also of the island of Madre Bomba, which lies off 
the south point of Sierra Leone and north from the 
shallows of the island of St. Ann. This land of 
Sierra Leone is the highest of all that lie between 
Cape Verd and the coast of Guinea, and is therefore 
easily known. 

" On the 30th August they cast anchor in eight 
fathoms water on a fine sandy bottom near the shore 
and opposite a village or town of the negroes in the 
road of Sierra Leone. This village consisted only 
of eight or nine poor thatched huts. The moorish 
inhabitants were willing to come on board to trade, 
only demanding a pledge to be left on shore for their 
security, because a French ship had recently carried 
off two of the natives perfidiously. Aris Clawson, the 
junior merchant or supercargo, went accordingly on 
shore, where he drove a small trade for lemons and 
bananas in exchange for glass beads. 

" In the meantime some of the natives came off 
to the ship, bringing with them an interpreter who 
spoke many languages. They here very conveniently 
furnished themselves with fresh water, which poured 
down in great abundance from a very high hill, so 
that they had only to place their casks under the water- 
fall. There were here whole woods of lemon- trees, 
and lemons were so cheap that they might have had 


a thousand for a few beads and ten thousand for a few 
common knives, so that they easily procured as many 
as they wished, and each man had 150 for sea store. 
The 3rd September they found a vast shoal of fish 
resembling a shoemaker's knife. They left Sierra 
Leone on the 4th September." 

The next recorded visit to Sierra Leone was that of 
the Desire, whose Master was Thomas Candesh, and 
this visit is described as follows : 

" They made Sierra Leone on the 23rd August, 
and reached its southern side on the 25th, where 
they had five fathoms of the lowest ebb ; having 
had for about fourteen leagues, while running into 
this harbour, from eight to sixteen fathoms. At 
this place they destroyed a negro town because the in- 
habitants had killed one of their men with a poisoned 
arrow. Some of the men went four miles up the 
harbour in a boat on the 3rd September, where they 
caught plenty of fish, and going on shore procured 
some lemons. They saw also some buffaloes, on 
their return to the ship. On the 6th they went out 
of the harbour of Sierra Leone and staid one tide 
three leagues from the point at its mouth, the tide 
there flowing S.W. 

" The 7th they departed for one of the islands which 
lie about ten leagues from the point of Sierra Leone, 
called the Banana Isle, and anchored that same day 
off the principal isle, on which they only found a few 

In 1622 a Dutch fleet consisting of eleven vessels 
put into the harbour of Sierra Leone, where they 
stayed for about three weeks. The visit is described 
as follows : 


' They anchored in the road of Sierra Leone on the 
llth August. Here on the 15th some of the crew 
being on shore ate freely of certain nuts resembling 
nutmegs, which had a fine taste, but had scarcely got 
on board when one of them dropt down dead, and 
before he was thoroughly cold he was all over purple 
spots. The rest recovered by taking proper medicines. 
Sierra Leone is a mountain on the Continent of 
Africa standing on the South side of the mouth of the 
river Mitomba, which discharges itself into a great 
bay of the sea. The road in which ships usually 
anchor is in Lat. of 8 26 N. This mountain is very 
high and thickly covered with trees, by which it may 
be easily known, as there is no mountain of such 
height anywhere upon the coast. There grows here a 
prodigious number of trees producing a small kind 
of lemons called limasses (limes), resembling those of 
Spain in shape and taste, and which are very agree- 
able and wholesome if not eaten to excess. The fleet 
arrived here at the season when this fruit was in 
perfection, and having full leave from the natives the 
people eat them intemperately, by which and the bad 
air the bloody flux increased much among them, so 
that they lost forty men between the llth August 
and the 5th September. 

" Sierra Leone abounds in palm trees, and has some 
Ananas or Pine-apples with plenty of wood of all 
sorts, besides having anchorage. They sailed from 
Sierra Leone on the 4th September, on which day 
the Admiral fell sick." 

In 1730 the Merchants of Havre and Nantz sent 
out some armed merchant vessels with the alleged 
object of exterminating the pirates in Pirates' Bay, 


Sierra Leone ; history is silent as to the result 
of this expedition. They visited the Colony of 
Gambia and destroyed some trading centres owned 
by Englishmen. 

By an Act of Parliament of 1763, 4 George III, 
Chapter 20, Senegal and its Dependencies became 
vested in a Company which is described as the Com- 
pany of Merchants Trading in Africa, and by an Act 
of the following year the property of the Company 
became vested in His Majesty King George the 
Third, and the trade to Africa was declared open to 
all his subjects, the officers and servants on the 
Coast being forbidden to export negroes on their 
own account. 

The Peninsula of Sierra Leone was purchased in 
1787, and a number of freed slaves and about sixty 
white women arrived from England the same year. 
The Sierra Leone Company, which had been formed 
for philanthropic purposes, was established by Act 
of Parliament, 31 George III, Chapter 55, of the 
1st July, 1791, for a period of thirty-one years, and 
annulled on the petition of the Company by an Act 
transferring to His Majesty certain possessions and 
rights vested in the Company, and for shortening the 
duration of the said Company and for preventing 
any dealing or trafficking in buying or selling slaves 
within the Colony of Sierra Leone on the 8th August, 

1807. The Colony was formally transferred to 
Governor Ledlum for the Crown on the 31st January, 

1808. Apart from anything else, Sierra Leone, on 
account of its very'close association with the abolition 
of the slave trade and the efforts made to promote 
civilization in West Africa and to convert the natives 


to Christianity, will always appeal to the sentiment 
of a large section of the English public. 

It was the famous ruling of Lord Chief Justice 
Mansfield in 1772 that a slave setting foot in England 
became free, which inspired William Cowper's stirring 
lines : 

" Slaves cannot breathe in England : if their lungs 
Receive our air, that moment they are free ; 
They touch our country and their shackles fall." 

" Freedom has a thousand charms to show 
That slaves, howe'er contented, never know." 

Although the slave trade was abolished over a 
century ago, slavery still exists in many parts of 
West Africa, and it was in a great measure due to the 
raids by the Sofas and intertribal wars for the purpose 
of obtaining slaves that a Protectorate was in 1896 
declared over the territory adjacent to the Colony 
of Sierra Leone. Domestic slavery still exists, but 
it is a kind, patriarchal sort of slavery, and slaves 
are allowed to purchase their freedom by paying, in 
the case of an adult, a sum not exceeding 4, and in 
the case of a child a sum not exceeding 2 ; many of 
them prefer to remain as domestic slaves or retainers, 
or, as they describe it, " sit down to some person " 
who makes himself responsible for their welfare. 
Their position is somewhat similar to that of the serf 
under the old English feudal system. 

All dealing in slaves has been made unlawful, and 
heavy penalties are provided for any breach of this 
provision, whilst every slave or other person who shall 
be brought or induced to come within the limits of 


the Protectorate in order that such person shall be 
dealt or traded in, sold, purchased or transferred as a 
pledge or security for debt, is declared to be free. The 
principles underlying the administration of the Pro- 
tectorate have been to recognize as between natives 
the use of native customs and laws, and to preserve 
the authority of the native rulers while preventing 
any acts of aggression on their part. 

The Protectorate Courts Jurisdiction Ordinance, 
1903, provides that in the Court of the District Com- 
missioners or the Circuit Court judicial cognizance 
may be taken of any law or custom not being repug- 
nant to natural justice. Courts of Native Chiefs 
are also recognized by the above Ordinance, and such 
Courts are declared to have jurisdiction according 
to native law and custom to hear and determine all 
civil cases arising exclusively between natives, other 
than a case involving a question of title to land 
between two or more Paramount Chiefs, and all 
criminal cases arising exclusively between natives, 
other than Murder, Slave-raiding, Cannibalism, and 
a few other of the more serious offences, provided 
that the Chief shall in no case be permitted to inflict 
punishment involving death, mutilation, or grievous 
bodily harm ; formerly it was the custom to hand 
over the wrong-doer to the injured party, who could 
take his life or keep him as a slave until such time 
as he or his family paid a sufficient sum to have him 

The administration by the native rulers is kept 
under close observation, and they are encouraged to 
educate themselves in the application of their own 
code. Each chief has his advisers or counsellors, 


some of whom are selected by himself and others 
elected by the people. When a chief dies it is not 
customary to announce the fact at once his chief 
speaker would announce first that he was suffering 
from a bad sickness, and was therefore unable to 
attend the affairs of State, later he would announce 
that he had gone to Futah Futah Jalloh being in 
the eyes of the natives a land rich in cattle and 
everything that they most desire. Steps would then 
be taken to elect a new chief. The person usually 
selected would be the senior male member of the 
deceased's family, though they sometimes go to the 
female side, as there is no Salic law to prevent such 
a course. The person nominated is taken to a hut on 
the outskirts of the town near the burial-place of the 
chief, where he lives out of sight of all persons for 
two or three months ; during this period he is sup- 
posed to hold high converse with the mighty dead, 
and learn from them how to govern wisely and well. 
After the lapse of this period the principal men of 
the chief dom visit him, and he is escorted into the 
town, which gives itself up to wild enthusiasm. The 
chief elect is carried round the town by a struggling, 
shouting mob, and at this stage it is permissible for 
any one to strike him. The reason given for this 
ceremony is that it enables the chief to feel the pain 
he will have in his power to inflict on others, and in 
consequence it may teach him compassion. After 
the chief has been formally elected and acclaimed, 
his body is sacred. Among the Mendes, women are 
frequently elected to the chieftainship ; a chieftain- 
ess does not marry, but may have a consort, whom 
she changes at will. She is also permitted, contrary 


to a strict rule regarding other women, to join the 
Poro Society. The Bundu Society, a women's society 
which corresponds with the Poro for men, plays a 
very important part in native life among the Mendes 
and Temnes. Bundu girls have to undergo during 
their novitiate period an operation somewhat similar 
to that performed on the Poro boys, and their backs 
and loins are cut in such a manner as to leave raised 
scars which project above the surface of the skin. 
They also receive their Bundu names by which they 
are afterwards known. Their release from the Bundu 
bush is carried out with great ceremony, and they are 
usually accompanied by persons wearing hideous 
masks who personate Bundu devils. A procession is 
formed, which marches through the town or village 
accompanied by musicians, who play on a collection 
of instruments consisting of drums, rattles and tim- 
brels. A halt is made in the centre of the town and 
the girls are publicly pronounced marriageable. 

The price paid for a wife varies according to the 
social position of the parties, but the usual price is 
between 3 and 5, though a man who has married 
a shrew will often sell her second-hand for a few 

The majority of the people of the Protectorate are 
Pagans, but Mohammedanism is rapidly spreading 
among them ; and as no good Mohammedan ever 
touches spirits, the advance of this faith may go a 
long way to put a stop to the consumption of trade 
gin, which is the curse of the Coast. The Government 
is doing everything possible to discourage its use as 
currency, and the principle of local option has been 
encouraged with good effect. One large District and 


portions of two other Districts have been declared 
prohibited areas into which no spirits can be lawfully 

One other matter which the Local Government is 
doing that is likely to result in much good is the effort 
being made to instruct the native chiefs and their 
people in sanitation and to teach them an elementary 
knowledge of hygiene. 

The Colony and Protectorate of Sierra Leone at 
the present time comprise an area of approximately 
30,000 square miles, and the population, given at the 
census taken in 1911, is 1,400,000. The Colony has 
an area of only 256 square miles and a population 
of 75,000, of which about 600 are Europeans ; it is 
of course the Colony that has so often been referred 
to in song and story on account of the evil reputation 
of its climate ; it is a case of " give a dog a bad name 
and it sticks to him." 

Sierra Leone was and is still known, though now 
quite undeservedly, as the White Man's Grave. Mrs. 
Falconbridge, the wife of one of the early agents of 
the Sierra Leone Company, records that during her 
residence in the Colony (1793-4) it was usual to ask 
in the morning " how many died last night." This 
can still be heard in Freetown as a form of morning 
greeting, but it now helps to start the day with a 
laugh, and that in West Africa is about the best 
tonic known. 

Captain Chamiers, in his " Life of a Sailor," says : 
" I have travelled east, I have travelled west, north 
and south, ascended mountains, dived in mines, but I 
never knew and never heard mention of so villainous 
and iniquitous a place as Sierra Leone. I know not 


where the Devil's Poste Eestante is, but the place 
must surely be Sierra Leone." 

Burton, in commenting on the above on the occasion 
of a visit paid to Freetown, the capital of the Colony, 
prior to writing his interesting book " Wanderings 
in West Africa," says in justice to the place, " Here, 
as elsewhere, the saying may hold good that a certain 
person may, perhaps, not be so black as he is painted." 

The educated Sierra Leonean is proud of the fact 
that the great Milton in " Paradise Lost " referred to 
Sierra Leone, even though it was only in connection 
with the awe-inspiring tornado to which the Colony 
is frequently subject, in those lines : 

" With adverse blast upturns them from the South 
. . . black with thund'rous clouds from Sierra Leone." 

Sierra Leone as it exists to-day is, owing to 
segregation and up-to-date sanitation, comparatively 
healthy for Europeans. The progress of the Colony 
has been phenomenal during the last fifteen years, 
and the credit is chiefly due to two energetic and 
far-seeing Governors in the persons of Sir Frederick 
Cardew and Sir Leslie Probyn, who foresaw the great 
benefit that would accrue by opening up the Protec- 
torate, and this has been done by building lines of 
railway into the rich palm-kernel belts and encourag- 
ing the natives to gather the natural products of the 
country for export. 

The revenue of the Colony, which in 1898 was 
only 117,000, had increased to 618,000 in 1913, and 
although the expenditure has proportionately in- 
creased, the finances of the Colony may be looked 
upon as satisfactory. 


Freetown, the chief port and the seat of the Govern- 
ment, is a city with a population of about 35,000 
inhabitants, of which about two-thirds belong to a 
class known as Creoles, the majority of whom are 
the descendants of the liberated slaves. It is beauti- 
fully situated, at the foot of a circle of hills on the 
summits of which are barracks belonging to the Gar- 
rison Artillery, the West India and the West African 
Regiment; and a short distance beyond lies Hill 
Station, the residence of the majority of the European 
officials stationed in the Colony Sugar Loaf, a beau- 
tiful wooded mountain which rises to a height of 
nearly 3,000 feet, forming a picturesque background. 
Altogether the natural beauties of Freetown and its 
surroundings are many, though it is frequently 
asserted by the jaded or bored temporary resident, 
that to enjoy the view really one must see it from 
the stern of one of Messrs. Elder, Dempster's ships 
homeward bound. 

In regard to the temporary resident which every 
European must consider himself, as, even with the 
greatest progress possible, Sierra Leone can never be 
regarded as other than a black man's country a 
discussion recently took place at a meeting of the 
members of the Hill Station Sports Club on the 
interpretation of the words " permanent residents " 
and " ordinary members " of the Club. One member 
humorously moved the deletion of the words " per- 
manent " and " ordinary/' assigning as his reason 
that the only European " permanent " members were 
those in the cemetery, and that there was a misuse 
of the word " ordinary " as no one who was ordinary 
ever came to West Africa ; needless to say the pro- 


posal was carried nem. con. The European officials 
and officers of the garrison are well provided for in 
the way of means of recreation. There are numerous 
tennis courts, a golf link, stickie and squash 
courts, and a cricket ground and there is no doubt 
that the fact of being able to take healthy and 
pleasant exercise reacts favourably on the health 
generally of the white community. Hill Station is 
situated nearly 1,000 feet above sea level and in the 
midst of most beautiful surroundings, and here the 
European official can enjoy the refreshing breezes 
from the broad Atlantic after leaving his office and 
the used-up atmosphere of Freetown. The Station 
is connected by a line of rails six miles in length 
with Freetown. The train is naturally not a " flying 
Scotchman/' and some years ago the Eailway Depart- 
ment were practising economy by feeding their engines 
with firewood instead of coal ; however, the train 
service at present is as good as can be expected, and 
there are a sufficient number of trains to meet the 
requirements of residents. 

Hill Station is fortunate in having an excellent 
water supply laid on to all the bungalows, which are 
roomy and comfortable ; and, all things considered, 
the Colonial Official's lot in Sierra Leone is not an un- 
happy one. 

In the streets of Freetown there are natives of 
many races to be seen. Chief among them are the 
Mendes and Temnes, but there are also many Man- 
dingos, Susus and Limbahs. The market women of 
Freetown, chiefly Creole, are also one of the features 
of the place. They are keen business women, and 
look upon it almost as a matter of honour to haggle 


over the smallest commercial transaction. There 
are of course many Creole traders who have shops 
of their own, where anything from a bag of sand to 
a pearl necklace can be purchased, but the chief trade 
is in the hands of European firms. The educated 
Creole youth usually looks for employment as a 
clerk, and when once he has attained that object he 
makes little further effort to improve his position. 

According to the last census the Creole population 
shows a decrease of over 6 per cent, during the ten 
years under review, while the other native races in 
the Colony show a considerable natural increase. The 
ordinary Creole has always shown a marked antipathy 
to agriculture, and the principle here applies that 
when a nationality declines to cultivate the earth, the 
first industry of life, that nationality has a tendency 
to decrease. 

Mission enterprise has not been a success in West 
Africa, and this is probably due to the fact that the 
first stage in converting the pagan is the effort made 
to break down his superstitious beliefs in good and 
evil spirits, which are matters of the gravest im- 
portance in his social life. 

Witches and vampires are still in fashion among 
them, and belong to the good old-fashioned variety 
which come to your bedroom in the dead of night, 
sit on your chest and suck your blood. It is not 
unusual to hear even the more or less educated native 
complain that he has passed a most unpleasant night 
because " witches " have visited him. 

It is certainly no compliment to call a lady in this 
country a witch ; she is liable to be maltreated and 
even beaten to death, and it is not uncommon for the 


police to be asked to protect a Freetown lady who is 
suspected of being a witch. 

It would appear from the criminal statistics that 
Freetown has a demoralizing effect on the aboriginal 
native who comes from the Protectorate to trade or 
obtain employment, and this is probably due to the 
fact that he is free from tribal authority and that 
his superstitious belief does not present any obstacle 
to his helping himself to the white man's property. 

There is very little stigma attached to imprison- 
ment, which, after all, is the chief deterring factor in 
civilized countries ; it does not necessarily follow 
that a scale of punishments suitable for offences 
committed by a civilized people is suitable for 
offences committed by an uncivilized people, and 
there are strong arguments in favour of allow- 
ing corporal punishment to be inflicted as well as 
imprisonment for offences committed by uneducated 
natives. Imprisonment to the educated native is of 
course a real punishment, though the social conse- 
quence following it would not be as serious as in the 
case of a European. 

Commercially the importance of Sierra Leone is 
small as compared with its easterly neighbours, the 
Gold Coast Colony with its hinterland Dependencies 
of Ashanti and the Northern Territories, and the huge 
new Colony of Nigeria made up of three older Colonies, 
but of all our West African Colonies Sierra Leone is 
probably the best known to the British public, and 
with the fine harbour and important coaling station 
at Freetown, its capital, Sierra Leone is a valuable 
link in the great chain of Imperial communication. 




(Received 21 July, 1913.) 


9th July, 1913. 

I HAVE the honour to transmit, for your informa- 
tion, a report on the steps taken to deal with unlawful 
societies in the Protectorate. 

I have, &c., 




For a number of years past the Northern Sherbro 
district has been the principal field for the operations 
of an organization which goes under the name of the 
Human Leopard Society. It has not yet been decided 
whether the object of the Society is merely to satisfy 
the craving which some savages have for human flesh, 
or whether the eating of human flesh is only part of some 
ceremony which is believed to have the effect of increasing 
the mental and physical powers of the members of the 



Society. Whatever the object is, the result is a very 
powerful and widespread secret organization, to which 
most, if not all, of the principal men of certain districts 

2. Several cases of murder committed by this Society 
have at various times come before the Circuit Court, and 
convictions have been obtained, but the full extent of 
the Society's operations was not brought to light until 
last year, when the District Commissioner received 
information that from 20 to 30 murders had been com- 
mitted since the year 1907, the Imperri sub-district and 
the country round Pujehun being the principal centres 
of the trouble. 

3. The District Commissioner reported the matter to 
the Government at the end of July, and proceeded to 
arrest the persons who appeared to be implicated. By 
the middle of October 336 persons had been arrested, 
including several Paramount Chiefs and leading men 
from the different chiefdoms. A company and a half of 
the West African Frontier Force were sent down to the 
Northern Sherbro District to preserve order and assist 
in guarding the prisoners. 

4. The only direct evidence against the persons arrested 
was found in the statements of certain of their number 
who turned King's evidence. These men admitted that 
they themselves were members of the Human Leopard 
Society, and described what had taken place at the various 
murders in which they had taken part. 

5. In many cases there was no corroborative evidence, 
and all attempts to obtain such evidence proved fruitless, 
a very strong oath of secrecy having clearly been imposed 
on all the people. Even the relatives of the victims, 
who were in most cases young boys and girls, were 
afraid to give information. 

6. It soon became clear that, although the District 
Commissioner and his assistants relied on being able 
to prove a special mark indicating membership of the 


Society, there was not sufficient evidence against many 
of the persons arrested to justify their being committed 
for trial. Accordingly, in order to assist the District 
Commissioner, who was overwhelmed with work, the 
Solicitor-General was sent to the Northern Sherbro 
District with instructions to go into the cases with him 
and ascertain in how many there was a sufficiently strong 
prima facie case against the accused. 

7. The result of the Solicitor-General's enquiry was : 
out of 336 persons who were detained in custody at 
Pujehun and Gbangbama, 42 were committed for trial, 
three turned King's evidence, and 291 were discharged 
after the preliminary enquiry had been held. Later on, 
66 other persons were arrested, all of whom were com- 
mitted for trial on various charges. The total number 
committed was, therefore, 108. 

8. The state of things disclosed by the reports of the 
District Commissioner was so serious, and the pernicious 
influence of the Human Leopard Society appeared to be 
so widely spread, that it was considered necessary, in 
order to deal adequately with the situation, to give the 
Government special powers. The Human Leopard and 
Alligator Societies Ordinance of 1909 was accordingly 
amended in the following particulars : 

(a) The two Societies were declared to be unlawful 

(6) Power was given to the Governor to proclaim 
any chiefdom in which a murder had been 
committed in connection with an unlawful 
society, and to the District Commissioner to 
arrest and detain any person in a proclaimed 
chiefdom on a warrant under his hand. 

(c) It was made an offence to be a member of an 
unlawful society, or to take part in the opera- 
tions of any such society or of any meeting 
of an unlawful society. The effect of this 
provision was made retrospective. 


(d) Powers of search were given to the police in the 

Colony, and to court messengers and the West 
African Frontier Force in the Protectorate. 

(e) Power was given to the Governor-in-Council to 

order the expulsion of any alien convicted under 
the Ordinance and sentenced to imprisonment 
on the expiration of his term of imprisonment. 
A copy of the amending Ordinance (No. 17 of 
1912) is attached. 

9. It was further considered necessary to appoint 
a special tribunal to deal with offences committed by 
members of unlawful societies, for the following reasons : 

(1) The number of cases to be heard and the number 

of persons committed for trial was so large that 
it would have been impossible for the Judge 
of the Circuit Court to hear them without 
seriously interfering with the ordinary criminal 
and civil work of the Court. 

(2) In the Circuit Court, native chiefs sit with the 

Judge as assessors, and as it appeared from 
the reports of the District Commissioner that 
many of the Paramount Chiefs in his District 
were implicated in the crimes of the Human 
Leopard Society, there was a danger of the 
Assessors being in sympathy with the persons 
whom they would be called upon to try. 

10. An Ordinance was accordingly passed empowering 
the Governor to appoint a Court or Courts of Special 
Commissioners for the trial of persons charged with 
offences committed in connection with unlawful societies, 
whether before or after the commencement of the Ordi- 
nance, and defining the powers and jurisdiction of the 
Court. A copy of the Ordinance (No. 18 of 1912) is 
attached, together with a copy of Ordinance No. 21 of 
1912, by which certain amendments in matters of detail 
were made. 

11. Under Section 2 (2) a Special Commission Court 


consists of three persons, one of whom must be a judge 
or barrister or solicitor of the Supreme Court of the Colony 
or of any other Court in the British dominions, and one 
of the members is appointed to be President of the Court. 
By Section 10 the powers conferred by Sections 5 and 6 
of the Human Leopard and Alligator Societies Amend- 
ment Ordinance, 1912, and various other powers con- 
ferred by the Human Leopard and Alligator Societies 
Ordinance of 1909 are extended to persons convicted by 
a Special Commission Court. 

12. It was recognized that, in view of the terror inspired 
by the Society and the oath of secrecy which was believed 
to have been imposed on the people of the District, there 
would be great difficulty in obtaining evidence ; and that 
persons of whose connection with the Society there was 
no moral doubt whatever might be acquitted for want of 
sufficient evidence to satisfy legal requirements. Section 
11 of the Ordinance accordingly provides that in any 
such case, if the Court is of opinion, after hearing all the 
evidence, that it is expedient for the security, peace or 
order of the District that the accused person should be 
expelled from the District, the Court may, notwith- 
standing his acquittal, send to the Governor a report 
of the case, and thereupon the accused may be expelled 
from the Colony and Protectorate. 

13. The importance of having an officer of high legal 
attainments, and one who had had previous experience 
of West Africa, as President of the Court was obvious, 
and the Government was fortunate in being able to 
secure the services of Sir William Brandford Griffith, 
late Chief Justice of the Gold Coast. The other members 
of the Court, as it was at first constituted, were Mr. A. 
Van der Meulen, Solicitor-General, and Mr. K. J. Beatty, 
Police Magistrate, both of whom are barristers-at-law. 
Later on, Mr. Van der Meulen went on leave, and his 
place was taken by Lieutenant-Colonel H. G. Warren, 
District Commissioner of the Karene District. 


14. The Court commenced its sittings on the 16th 
December. Owing to the large number of prisoners and 
witnesses, all of whom resided in the Northern Sherbro 
District, it was decided that the Court should sit at 
Gbangbama, in the Imperri chief dom. The Crown was 
represented by Mr. E. D. Vergette, Crown Prosecutor, 
assisted by Major R. H. K. Willans, Acting District 
Commissioner, and Mr. C. S. H. Vaudrey, Assistant 
District Commissioner. The prisoners were all repre- 
sented by counsel. 

15. The trials were conducted with the utmost care 
and patience. The hearing of the first case occupied 
11 days, of the second 36 days, and of the third 28 days. 
The other cases were disposed of more rapidly. 

1 6. In the third case the question of the initiation mark 
alleged to be borne by members of the Human Leopard 
Society was very carefully gone into. The accomplices 
showed the mark on their own persons, and described 
how it was made. They also pointed out marks on 
the prisoners which they alleged to be the mark of the 
Society. Unfortunately, their evidence in some instances 
was contradictory, and they identified different marks 
on the same person as being the initiation mark. More- 
over, it was proved, by taking persons haphazard in the 
Court who were not suspected of any connection with 
the Society, that it was hardly possible to distinguish the 
alleged Human Leopard mark from scars caused by disease 
or slight injuries. The Court was, therefore, unable to 
accept the mark as evidence of membership of the Society. 

17. In view of this ruling, it was obviously useless to 
proceed with cases in which the alleged mark formed the 
only corroboration of the evidence of accomplices, and 
it was decided to enter a nolle prosequi in such cases. 

18. Out of 108 persons committed by the District Com- 
missioner, 34 were brought to trial, 71 were released after 
a nolle prosequi had been entered, and three died before 
trial. Of the persons brought to trial, nine were convicted 


of murder and 10 others of lesser offences, the remaining 
15 being acquitted. Seven of the nine men convicted 
of murder were executed, and in the case of the other 
two the capital sentence was commuted for one of im- 
prisonment for life. Of the 1 5 persons who were acquitted 
11 have since been expelled from the Colony and Pro- 
tectorate on the recommendation of the Court ; and by 
arrangement with the Government of Southern Nigeria 
those who have been sentenced to imprisonment will be 
transferred to Lagos to undergo their sentences there. 
* * * * 

19. While it is permissible to believe that the action 
taken by the Government has had the effect of checking 
the activities of the Human Leopard Society, at all 
events for the time being, it would be by no means 
prudent to assert that this criminal organization has been 
broken up. Many persons of whose connection with the 
Society there is little or no doubt are still at large, and 
probably there are not a few others who have hitherto 
not come under the notice of the authorities. 

20. The blind belief of the natives in the efficacy of 
the " medicines " concocted by the Society (especially 
that known as " Borfima ") ; the power and authority 
enjoyed by the possessors of these medicines ; the fact 
that periodical human sacrifices are considered to be 
necessary in order to renew the efficacy of the medicines ; 
and a tendency on the part of some natives to cannibalism 
pure and simple all these causes will contribute to the 
survival of this baneful organization. It has held sway 
for many years possibly for centuries and the task of 
stamping it out will undoubtedly be one of great difficulty. 




Qth July, 1913. 






tion of 

No. 28 of 


AN ORDINANCE to amend the Human Leopard and 
Alligator Societies Ordinance, 1909 

No. 17 OF 1912 

Be it enacted by the Governor of the Colony of Sierra 
Leone, with the advice and consent of the Legislative 
Council thereof, as follows : 

1 . This Ordinance may be cited as the Human Leopard 
and Alligator Societies Amendment Ordinance, 1912. 

2. (1) Whenever it appears to the Governor that a 
murder has been committed in connection with an 
unlawful society in any chief dom, it shall be lawful for 
him by proclamation to declare such chiefdom or any 
part thereof to be a proclaimed district. 

(2) In a proclaimed district it shall be lawful for a 
District Commissioner to order the arrest and detention 
in custody of any person whose arrest and detention 
he may consider desirable in the interests of justice. A 
warrant under the hand of a District Commissioner shall 
be sufficient authority to the person named therein to 
detain any such person in such place as shall be men- 
tioned therein. 

3. For the words " the /any Human Leopard Society 
and /or Alligator Society" wherever they occur in the 
Human Leopard and Alligator Societies Ordinance, 1909 
(hereinafter called the Principal Ordinance), shall be 
substituted the words " any unlawful society." 

4. (1) Every person who knowingly 

(a) is or has before the commencement of this 

Ordinance been a member of an unlawful 
society ; or 

(b) takes or has before the commencement of this 

Ordinance taken part in the operations of an 
unlawful society or of any meeting thereof, 
shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment, with or 
without hard labour, for a term not exceeding fourteen 


(2) A Magistrate or District Commissioner on sworn 
information may authorize any member of the Sierra 
Leone Police Force or West African Frontier Force or a 
court messenger to search any person whom there is good 
reason to suspect of being a member of an unlawful 
society or of having taken part in the operations of an 
unlawful society, or of any meeting thereof, and for 
this purpose may authorize any of the afore-mentioned 
persons to enter any premises at any time and, if need be, 
by force, on Sundays as well as on other days ; and if 
any person wilfully hinders, molests or obstructs any of 
the aforesaid persons in searching such suspected person, 
every such person shall be liable, on summary conviction, 
to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds or to imprisonment, 
with or without hard labour, for a term not exceeding 
twelve months. 

5. For Section 12 of the Principal Ordinance shall be 
substituted the following section : 

12. When any person shall have been convicted Power of 
of complicity in any murder committed in connection ijc<mnd 
with an unlawful society, whether before or after to order 
the commencement of this Ordinance, and the 
Governor shall have decided to grant a pardon to 
such person on condition of his undergoing a term of 
imprisonment with or without hard labour, or when 
any person shall have been convicted of complicity 
in any murder aforesaid not involving the punish- 
ment of death, or when any person shall have been 
convicted of an offence under this Ordinance or any 
Ordinance amending the same, and shall have been 
sentenced by the Court to undergo a term of im- 
prisonment with or without hard labour, the judge 
before whom such person was so tried and convicted 
shall forthwith send a report of such case to the 
Governor, and it shall then be lawful for the Governor- 
in-Council to direct that such person, not being an 
alien, shall be deported from the Colony or Protec- 



of aliens. 

tation of 

torate to any other British Colony, there to serve 

such term of imprisonment in such prison as the 

Governor of such Colony may direct. 

6. (1) In the case of a convicted person, who is an 

alien, it shall be lawful for the Governor-in-Council, 

after the completion of the term of imprisonment awarded 

to such convicted person, to make an order (in this 

Ordinance referred to as an expulsion order) requiring 

such alien to leave the Colony or Protectorate within a 

time fixed by the order and thereafter to remain out of 

the Colony and Protectorate. 

(2) If any alien in whose case an expulsion order has 
been made is at any time found within the Colony or 
Protectorate in contravention of the order, he shall, on 
conviction, be liable to imprisonment, with or without 
hard labour, for a term not exceeding ten years. 

(3) Any person aiding or attempting to aid any person, 
in whose case an expulsion order has been made, to return 
to the Colony or Protectorate, and any person harbouring 
such person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall, 
on conviction, be liable to imprisonment, with or without 
hard labour, for a term not exceeding two years. 

7. The schedule to the Principal Ordinance is hereby 
amended by adding at the end thereof the following 
words : 

(6) A dress made of baboon skins commonly used 
by members of an unlawful society. 

(7) A " kukoi " or whistle, commonly used for 
calling together the members of an unlawful society. 

(8) An iron needle, commonly used for branding 
members of an unlawful society. 

8. In this Ordinance " unlawful society " means the 
Human Leopard Society, the Human Alligator Society, 
or any other society existing for the purpose of com- 
mitting or encouraging or procuring the commission of 

" Alien " means a person who is a natural-born subject 


or citizen of a foreign state, or has been naturalized as 

9. Whereas various murders are alleged to have been indemnity 
committed in connection with unlawful societies, and clause - 
various persons have been arrested and detained in 
custody in connection therewith ; 

Now it is hereby enacted that all persons who were 
before the commencement of this Ordinance concerned 
in the arrest or detention in custody of such arrested 
persons are hereby fully indemnified for anything done 
by them in the arrest or detention in custody of such 
arrested persons, and no action at law or otherwise shall 
be maintained for such arrested persons having been 
so arrested and detained in custody, and no writ of 
habeas corpus shall be issued on their behalf. 

10. This Ordinance shall apply to the Colony and Extent of 

Passed in the Legislative Council this Thirty-first day 
of October, in the year of our Lord One thousand nine 
hundred and twelve. 


Clerk of Legislative Council. 

AN ORDINANCE to constitute Special Commission Courts Title, 
for the trial of persons charged with offences com- 
mitted in connection with unlawful societies. 

No. 18 OF 1912 

Whereas there exist in the Colony and Protectorate Preamble, 
certain unlawful societies formed for the purpose of com- 
mitting murders ; 

And whereas many murders have recently been com- 
mitted under the influence of such unlawful societies ; 

And whereas, owing to the number of these murders, 
it is expedient to try all persons charged with offences 
committed in connection with such unlawful societies by 
a special tribunal ; 







No. 28 of 

Be it therefore enacted by the Governor of the Colony 
of Sierra Leone, with the advice and consent of the Legis- 
lative Council thereof, as follows : 

1. This Ordinance may be cited as the Special Com- 
mission Ordinance, 1912. 

2. (1) The Governor may from time to time direct a 
commission or commissions to be issued for the appoint- 
ment of a Court or Courts of Special Commissioners for 
the trial in manner provided by this Ordinance of persons, 
committed for trial before the Supreme Court of the 
Colony or the Circuit Court of the Protectorate, for any 
of the following offences committed in the Colony or 
Protectorate, whether before or after the commencement 
of this Ordinance ; that is to say, 

(a) murder, committed in connection with an un- 

lawful society ; 

(b) attempting or conspiring to commit murder in 

connection with an unlawful society ; 

(c) any of the offences under Section 2 of the Human 

Leopard and Alligator Societies Ordinance, 
1909, or under any Ordinance amending that 
Ordinance ; 

and the Governor may by warrant assign to any such 
Court of Special Commissioners (in this Ordinance referred 
to as a Special Commission Court) the duty of sitting 
at the place named in the warrant, and of there, without 
a jury and not assisted by any native chief, or non-native 
or native assessors, hearing and determining, according to 
law, the charge made against the person so committed for 
trial and named in the warrant, and of doing therein 
what to justice appertains. 

(2) A Special Commission Court shall consist of three 
persons to be named in such commission, of whom one 
shall be a judge or barrister or solicitor of the Supreme 
Court of the Colony or of any other Court in the British 
dominions, and they shall try in open court, according to 
the tenor of a warrant under this Ordinance, all persons 


named in the warrant who may be brought before them 
for trial. The Governor shall appoint one of the members 
of a Special Commission Court to be the President thereof. 

(3) A member of a Special Commission Court shall NO. i of 
take such oaths as are prescribed by the Promissory Oaths 187 * 
Ordinance of 1870, to be taken by Judges. 

(4) The evidence taken on a trial before a Special 
Commission Court and the reasons, if any, given by the 
members of the said Court in delivering judgment, shall 
be taken down in writing by the President of the said 

(5) A person tried by a Special Commission Court 
shall be acquitted unless the whole Court concur in his 
conviction, and the members of the said Court shall in 
all cases of conviction give in open court the reasons 
for such conviction. 

(6) The Governor shall from time to time provide for 
the payment of the reasonable expenses of witnesses. 

3. (1) There shall be attached to a Special Commission Appoint- 
Court an Assistant Master, who shall attend such Special ^Sstant 
Commission Court, when sitting to try persons charged Master. 
with offences under this Ordinance. Such Assistant 
Master, while discharging or performing the duties of 
his office, shall have all the powers of the Master of the 
Supreme Court of the Colony. 

(2) If at any time the Assistant Master shall be pre- 
vented by illness or other unavoidable absence from 
acting in his office, it shall be lawful for the Court to 
appoint from time to time a deputy to act for the said 
Assistant Master and to remove such deputy at its pleasure, 
and such deputy, while acting under such appointment, 
shall have the like powers as if he were the Assistant 

4. (1) A warrant for the trial by a Special Commission Reguia- 
Court of a person charged with an offence shall be in the 

form contained in the Schedule to this Ordinance. and nc> tice 

(2) Not less than seven days before the sitting of any 


Special Commission Court, notice thereof shall be pub- 
lished in the Gazette stating the names of the Special 
Commissioners, the place at which the Court will sit, and 
the day on which the sitting of the Court will begin. 

(3) An objection to the jurisdiction of a Special Com- 
mission Court to try a person for any offence shall not 
be entertained by reason only of any non-observance 
of the provisions of this section ; but the Court, on 
application, may adjourn the case, so as to prevent any 
person charged being prejudiced by such non-observance. 
Reguia- 5. (i) if any member of a Special Commission Court 

courts. dies, or if it appears to the Governor that from illness or 
some reasonable cause it is necessary that another person 
should be appointed in the place of a member of a 
Special Commission Court, the Governor may, if he thinks 
it expedient so to do, direct a supplemental commission 
to be issued, appointing another person to fill the vacancy 
in such Court. 

(2) Subject to the provisions of this Ordinance, and 
for the purpose of the trial of any persons charged before 
them, a Special Commission Court shall have the same 
privileges, powers and jurisdiction as if it were the Circuit 
Court of the Protectorate, trying with native chiefs, or 
non-native or native assessors an offender before such 
Court, and shall follow, as far as possible, the practice 
and procedure of that Court, and in hearing and deter- 
mining the cases of all persons tried before a Special 
Commission Court, such Court shall, as far as possible, 
be guided in arriving at a decision by the laws in force 
in the Colony. A Special Commission Court shall be a 
court of record, and the same intendment shall be made 
in respect of all orders, writs, and process made by and 
issuing out of such Special Commission Court, as if it 
were a court of record acting according to the course 
and by the authority of the common law. 

(3) All the members of a Special Commission Court shall 
be present at the hearing and determination of the case 


of a person tried before such Court, but, save as aforesaid, 
the jurisdiction of the Court may be exercised by any 
of such members, and any act of the Court shall not be 
invalidated by reason of any vacancy among the members. 

(4) The trial by a Special Commission Court of a person 
in pursuance of a warrant under this Ordinance shall 
begin as soon as may be, but it shall be lawful for the 
Court to postpone such trial on the request of such 
person, or on account of the illness or absence of a witness, 
or on account of a vacancy in the Court, or of the illness 
of such person, or some other sufficient cause, and to 
discontinue a trial of a person, when commenced, on 
account of a vacancy in the Court or the illness of such 
person, or some other sufficient cause. 

(5) Where a trial of a person is postponed or discon- 
tinued, the trial of such person may take place before the 
same Court or any other Special Commission Court, 
and shall take place as soon as may be. 

(6) In the event of a trial of a person taking place 
before another Special Commission Court, a new warrant 
shall be issued for the trial of such person. 

(7) A commission appointing a Special Commission 
Court shall not be superseded or affected by the issue of 
another like commission, nor shall the sitting or juris- 
diction of such Court be affected by the sitting of any 
such commission or of the Supreme Court of the Colony 
or the Circuit Court of the Protectorate. 

(8) A Special Commission Court shall be a Court within No. 5 of 
the meaning of the Perjury Ordinance, 1896, and the jf<?. 6 i2 of 
Children (Criminal Law Amendment) Ordinance, 1910. 1910. 

(9) The provisions of the Supreme Court Amendment No. 14 of 
Ordinance, 1912, shall not apply to a trial of a person 

by a Special Commission Court. 

(10) An objection to the jurisdiction of a Special 
Commission Court to try a person in pursuance of a 
warrant under this Ordinance shall not be entertained by 
reason only of any want of form in the warrant, or of any 




tions of 

of counsel. 

mistake in the name or description of such person in 
the warrant, if it is shown that the person tried is the 
person to whom the warrant relates ; and an objection 
to the proceedings of such Court for any want of form 
on the trial of any person shall not be entertained, if 
no injustice was thereby done to such person. 

6. (1) When a person is brought up for trial before 
a Special Commission Court, he shall be triable for any 
offence, being one, or connected with one, of the offences 
referred to in Section 2 of this Ordinance, disclosed by 
the depositions taken by the Court of the District 
Commissioner at the investigation of the charge, and 
the Special Commission Court shall inform such person 
specifically of the charge whereon he is to be tried, and 
shall record such charge in writing and call upon such 
person to plead thereto. 

(2) At any time before the trial, on application by a 
person charged with an offence or by some person on 
his behalf, a copy of the written charge, if any, of the 
depositions and of the statement of such person so 
charged shall be supplied by the officer in whose custody 
the originals are deposited at the time of such application, 
for which a reasonable charge, not exceeding sixpence 
for every hundred words, may be made, or the same 
may be supplied without payment, as shall to the officer 
granting the application in his discretion seem expedient. 

7. The deposition of any witness taken by the Court 
of the District Commissioner at the investigation of 
the charge in the presence of the person charged, such 
person having had full opportunity of cross-examining 
such witness, may be given in evidence before a Special 
Commission Court if the witness be dead, or if the Court 
be satisfied that for any sufficient cause his attendance 
cannot be procured. 

8. Barristers and solicitors of the Supreme Court of 
the Colony and officers appointed by the Governor to 
prosecute shall be allowed to appear and be heard at the 


trials of persons charged with offences before a Special 
Commission Court. 

9. A Special Commission Court shall have power in Power to 
capital cases to inflict punishment of death, and when a j^ence of 
sentence of death has been passed, all the proceedings death. 

in the case shall with the least possible delay be forwarded, 
together with a report from the Special Commission Court, 
to the Governor, and no sentence of death shall be carried 
into effect except upon the warrant of the Governor and in 
the mode and in the place directed by him, and such war- 
rant shall be the authority for carrying the same into effect. 

10. A Special Commission Court shall send to the 
Governor a report of the cases of all persons convicted Deporta- 
by such Court, and thereupon the power of deportation to 

and expulsion conferred by sections 5 and 6 of the Human 
Leopard and Alligator Societies Amendment Ordinance, 
1912, shall extend to persons convicted by a Special No. 17 of 
Commission Court, and all the applicable provisions 
contained in Sections 13, 14 and 15 of the Human Leopard 
and Alligator Societies Ordinance, 1909, and in Section 6 
of the Human Leopard and Alligator Societies Amendment 
Ordinance, 1912, shall extend to all persons deported or 
expelled under this Ordinance, and to all persons aiding No. 28 of 
or attempting to aid such deported or expelled persons 1J 
unlawfully to return to the Colony or Protectorate, and 
to all persons unlawfully harbouring such deported or 
expelled persons. 

11. (l) If a person tried by a Special Commission 
Court shall be acquitted, but the Court shall be of opinion 
that it is expedient for the security, peace or order of the 
district in which the offence with which such person was 
charged took place, that such person should be expelled 
from such district, the said Court shall send to the 
Governor a report of the case, and thereupon it sna ^ Powerto 
be lawful for the Governor-in-Council to make an order ex pel 
(in this Ordinance referred to as an expulsion order) V* 
requiring such person to leave the Colony or Protectorate acquitted. 



of unlaw- 
ful society. 
No. 17 of 

Extent of 

of Ordi- 

within a time fixed by the order, and thereafter to 
remain out of the Colony and Protectorate. 

(2) If any person in whose case an expulsion order 
has been made is at any time found within the Colony 
or Protectorate in contravention of the order, he shall, 
on conviction, be liable to imprisonment, with or without 
hard labour, for a term not exceeding ten years. 

(3) Any person aiding or attempting to aid any person, 
in whose case an expulsion order has been made, to 
return to the Colony or Protectorate, and any person 
harbouring such person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour 
and shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment, with 
or without hard labour, for a term not exceeding two years. 

12. The expression " unlawful society " has the same 
meaning as in the Human Leopard and Alligator Societies 
Amendment Ordinance, 1912. 

13. This Ordinance shall apply to the Colony and Pro- 

14. This Ordinance shall continue in force until the 
expiration of one year next after the commencement 
thereof : Provided that the expiration of this Ordinance 
shall not affect the validity of anything done in pursuance 
of this Ordinance, and any person convicted under this 
Ordinance may be punished as if this Ordinance con- 
tinued in force, and all prosecutions and other legal 
proceedings pending under this Ordinance at the time of 
the expiration thereof may be carried on, completed and 
carried into effect, and the sentences carried into execution 
as if this Ordinance had not expired. 

SCHEDULE. (Section 4.) 

Whereas by a commission dated the day 

of and issued under and by virtue of the 

Special Commission Court Ordinance, 1912, you have 
been appointed Special Commissioners to form a Special 
Commission Court for the trial in manner provided by 


the said Ordinance of persons committed for trial before 
the Court of the for offences, 

in connection with unlawful societies ; 

And whereas the persons whose names are set out in 
the Schedule hereto have been committed for trial before 
the Court of the for offences in 

connection with unlawful societies ; 

Now I, , 

Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of 
Sierra Leone, hereby assign to you the said Special 
Commissioners the duty of sitting at in 

the Protectorate (or Colony) of Sierra Leone, and of there, 
without a jury and not assisted by any native chief or 
non-native or native assessors, hearing and determining, 
according to law, the charges made against the persons 
whose names are set out in the Schedule hereto, and of 
doing therein what to justice appertains, and this shall 
be to you a sufficient warrant in that behalf. 

Given under my hand this day of 



Passed in the Legislative Council this Fifteenth day 
of November in the year of our Lord One thousand nine 
hundred and twelve. 


Clerk of Legislative Council. 

AN ORDINANCE to amend the Special Commission 
Ordinance, 1912 

No. 21 OF 1912. 

Be it enacted by the Governor of the Colony of Sierra 
Leone, with the advice and consent of the Legislative 
Council thereof, as follows : 

1. This Ordinance may be cited as the Special Com- Short title, 
mission Court (Amendment) Ordinance, 1912. 


Various 2. The Special Commission Ordinance, 1912, is hereby 

amend- j , 

ments in amended, 

I9i2 18 f W In section l > b y inserting the word "Court" 

after the word " Commission." 

(2) By adding at the end of subsection (5) of section 2 

the following paragraph : 

" In all other matters the decision or opinion 
of the Court shall be according to the decision 
or opinion of a majority of the members of the 

(3) In line 3 of section 3, by inserting the word 

" triable " after the word " offences," and in 
line 8 of the same section by substituting the 
words 4t reasonable cause " for the words " un- 
avoidable absence." 

(4) In subsection (10) of section 5, by inserting the 

words "to be " before the word " tried " in 
line 5 thereof. 

(5) In section 6, by inserting the words " which may 

in the opinion of the Court be " after the word 
" Ordinance " in line 4 thereof. 

(6) In section 9, by inserting the words " the notes 

of evidence and " after the word " passed " in 
line 2 thereof, and by inserting after the word 
" case " in line 3 thereof the words " or copies 
thereof certified under the hand of the Assistant 

(7) In subsection (3) of section 11, by inserting the 

word "unlawfully" before the word "har- 
bouring " in line 3 thereof. 

(8) By inserting the word " To " at the beginning of 

the Schedule, by transferring the words " given 
under my hand this day of 

Governor " in lines 19 and 20 of the Schedule 
to the end of the Schedule to the Schedule, 
and by striking out the word " To " inline 22 
of the Schedule. 


3. An officer appointed by the Governor to prosecute Powers of 
at the trials of persons charged with offences before a p^Scutor 
Special Commission Court shall, for the purposes of such 

trials, have the same rights and powers as the Attorney- 

4. The following section shall be substituted for section Duration 
14 of the Special Commission Court Ordinance, 1912 : nan ce * 

"14. This Ordinance shall continue in force until 
the expiration of one year next after the commence- 
ment thereof : Provided that the expiration of this 
Ordinance shall not affect the validity of anything 
done in pursuance of, nor the continuing validity of 
any deportation or expulsion under this Ordinance, nor 
the liability to punishment of any persons committing 
an offence under sections 10 and 11 hereof, and any 
person convicted under this Ordinance may be pun- 
ished as if this Ordinance continued in force, and 
all prosecutions and other legal proceedings pending 
under this Ordinance at the time of the expiration 
thereof may be carried on, completed and carried 
into effect, and the sentences carried into execution, 
and deportation and expulsion orders made, as if 
this Ordinance had not expired." 

5. This Ordinance shall apply to the Colony and Pro- Extent of 

tectorate. Ordinance. 

Passed in the Legislative Council this Thirteenth day 
of December, in the year of Our Lord One thousand nine 
hundred and twelve. 


Clerk of Legislative Council. 



The Nation in Arms 

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Journal of United States Artillery. 

Sadowa : A Study 

By General H. Bonnal. Translated from the French by 
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against Austria on their lines has become a book essential to 
British military study." The Athenaum. 

Military History applied to 
Modern Warfare 

By the late Captain J. W. E. Donaldson, R.F.A. Second 
edition, revised and enlarged, by Captain A. F. Becke, late 
R.F.A. Demy 8vo. 395 pages. With 15 Maps and Plans. 
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HUGH REES LTD., 5 Regent Street, London, S.W. 

Bush Warfare 

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Rangers. Demy 8vo. 203 pages. 13 Maps and Plans. 
Price 6s. net. 

" His volume is full of instruction, and we would commend 
it to all soldiers, because the British Army has done, and 
probably will have to do, more bush fighting than any other 
army in the world." Army and Navy Gazette. 

British Battle Books , v< 

By Hilaire Belloc. Illustrated with Coloured Maps. Fcap. 
8vo. Cloth, is. net each volume. 




The British Battle Series consists of a number of monographs 
upon actions in which British troops have taken part. Each 
battle is the subject of a separate book illustrated with coloured 
maps, illustrative of the movements described in the text, 
together with a large number of line maps showing the successive 
details of the action. In each case the political circumstances 
which led to the battle are explained ; next, the stages leading 
up to it ; lastly, the action in detail. 

The Japanese in Manchuria, 1904 

Translated from the French of Colonel Cordonnier by 
Captain C. F. Atkinson. 

VOL. I. THE YA-LU AND TELISSU. Price 73. 6d. net. 
VOL. II. LIAO-YANG. With case of Maps. Price gs. net. 

" Colonel Cordonnier's book is not a mere history of a 
campaign, but rather a study, and an especially valuable one, 
of the concerted action of policy, strategy, and tactics which 
together form what men call war." United Service Magazine. 

HUGH REES, LTD., 5 Regent Street, London, S.W. 



Beatty, (Sir) Kenneth James 
655 Human Leopards